Monday, October 29, 2012

Superpave Pilot Project Changes V

This post will conclude our journey through the major upcoming changes to Section 39 that will take place with Superpave implementation.  This post will focus on the changes that your laboratories will be influenced by.  Our previous posts were as follows: The first post, Changes I, focused on changes to the paperwork and paving procedures.  The second post, Changes II, focused on changes that affect the operations group at hot mix asphalt plants.  The third post, Changes III, focused on the changes that will affect you if you produce RAP and add it to hot mix asphalt.  The fourth post, Changes IV, focused on Mix Designs & Mix Verifications.

Although the changes that affect your plants, such as lowered target ranges and possible changes to your crushing operations may seem daunting, I personally feel that the laboratories will be going through the most time consuming changes over the next two years.  Here are the major items:

  • Caltrans is officially going to use AASHTO test methods with Caltrans exclusions.  When I say, "with Caltrans exclusions" I mean this: the AASHTO methods allow for things like a hand shaker in the SE test method.  Caltrans will specify that you use the AASHTO method but will exclude certain parts of it such as not being allowed to use a hand shaker in the SE test.  These changes will be noted in the Caltrans IA manual that is slated to be written (but not released) in November 2012.
  • Since Caltrans cannot legally certify a person in AASHTO test methods, they will instead be issuing a letter of proficiency to technicians for each of the AASHTO test methods which means your technicians will still need to certify one on one with the IA inspector for all of their test methods.  This also means that your technicians will be doing double certification duty because they may need to certify for the Caltrans test methods to work on non-Superpave Caltrans jobs and the AASHTO test methods to work on Superpave jobs.  The letter of proficiency will only be valid for Caltrans jobs, not for city or county jobs.
  • Letters of proficiency will be valid for 1 year.  Sometime in the future Caltrans hopes to extend this to 2 years to align with the Caltrans certifications.
  • The IA inspector will have the ability to grandfather experienced technicians into the AASHTO test methods but it will not be required for them to do so.
  • The Caltrans IA lab certification requirements will remain the same but your lab will now also be required to have your lab certified with AMRL.  For purposes of the pilot projects in 2012 & 2013, if you have submitted your paperwork to AMRL and are in the que for certification this will be enough to test on a Superpave job.  Starting in 2014, it will be required to be fully certified with AMRL so start your certification process now!  You can learn more about the AMRL Certification Program in our post: Inside AMRL's Certification Program from earlier this year.
  • IA will be cracking down on how your technicians perform test methods as we move into Superpave.  If IA find that you are doing a test wrong, no matter what test it was, they have the right to revoke ALL of that technician's certifications, not just the test they were doing wrong.  In addition, any test results that were previously obtained by that technician for that test method will no longer be valid.
  • In the AASHTO test method for fine specific gravity (T 84) you CAN wash the fines.  As of right now Caltrans will be allowing the washing of fines in Superpave.  The reasoning for this (and for the short lived change in 2011) was that Caltrans wanted to give industry the ability to recreate what may happen in the plant production environment.  For instance, if you have a mineral filler system on your plant, the fines will have been removed in production and washing your fine specific gravity sample in the mix design process may be justified.  However, in a plant that does not remove the fines during production the washing process in the lab would be unnecessary.  With Superpave you will have the ability to do one or the other but it will likely be your responsibility to ensure that the Caltrans lab is using the same method that you are.      
  • The Fine Aggregate Angularity (FAA) test is now mandatory for all mix designs, not just when you have under a certain percentage of sand.

It is recommended that you purchase the SP-2 Superpave Mix Design handbook from the Asphalt Institute here.  The asphalt institute is also working on rewriting their MS-2 Mix Design Methods for Asphalt Concrete which will now include Superpave mix designing but that will not likely be released in the next year.  

All of the changes I mentioned in these posts are for the PILOT projects and may change at full implementation in 2014.  There is a lot of industry concern about being able to obtain some of these conditions (specifically some of the variances).  When this was discussed with Joe Peterson, he encouraged industry to compile data to show that the condition may not be feasible and that he is open to changing them if he has sufficient empirical evidence.  This really goes for any of the specifications or Caltrans rules.  Be sure to voice your concerns and bring some of the issues to the table with Caltrans so they are aware that industry is struggling and why.  There are a lot of major changes coming about and there are going to be speedbumps and realities may have been overlooked in the specification design process.  I encourage you to create good working relationships with your Caltrans counterparts and get involved with the various associations that are making major headway for the industry.  The better the communication is, the more likely we are to find an appropriate solution in the long run.  One way to build a good communication base is to use our Superpave Discussion Forum.  Please feel free to post any of your questions, opinions, and concerns.  Utilize this area to discuss your findings and work with other companies to make the changes you feel are needed. 

Joe Peterson of Caltrans is currently traveling all over the state to give presentations on the upcoming Superpave specifications.  Although he will discuss many of the changes I've outlined in the last few posts I encourage you to still attend one of his presentations for a more in depth look at Superpave.  Joe is a great presenter and covers what could be very dry material in a  useful and interactive way.  In addition, these events will allow you to ask Joe any of your burning Superpave questions so look into attending one if you haven't seen it already.  He has already hit many areas but is scheduled to speak at the following events:  

Nov. 28 @ 12:15pm: CalAPA Central Coast Technical Committee Meeting-Santa Maria
Dec. 5 @ 10:00am (May be rescheduled): CalAPA Southern Technical Committee Meeting-Los Angeles
Dec. 13 @ 9:00am: Caltrans District 9-Bishop
Dec. 19 @  9:30am: CalAPA Central Valley Technical Committee Meeting-Bakersfield
January TBD: Caltrans District 4-Oakland
March TBD: Caltrans District 3-Marysville
March TBD: Caltrans District 8-SRL 

The Caltrans district presentations above will give priority to Caltrans employees but Industry professionals are also invited to participate.  If you would like to attend one of the Caltrans district presentations you can reserve a spot in advance by contacting Roseanna Rodriquez of Caltrans at (916) 227-7020, or via email at  The CalAPA meetings do not require pre-registration.

For more information on the Caltrans Superpave movement visit the Caltrans Superpave Resource page here, where you can find general information on Superpave, a list of the new AASHTO test procedures that will be used, the most recent versions of the Caltrans Superpave specifications, and more.

Good luck!  

No comments:

Post a Comment