Thursday, September 5, 2013

Caltrans' 2010 Construction Standards Webinar

Caltrans is hosting a FREE webinar on September 19 from 10am-noon to explain the 2010 Construction Standards (the big red book).  It will give an overview of why the specifications were changed, information on the new format, and tips on how to find key passages.  This webinar will focus on the entire book, not just the materials but may be useful to you.  Below is information from Caltrans in regards to the webinar: 

Target Audience: Caltrans, contractors, and local agency construction field staff using or going to be using the Caltrans 2010 Standards.

Many contractors and resident engineers are now starting to work on contracts under the Caltrans 2010 Standards and have discovered that the specifications are not in the format they are used to.  

This Webinar on the Caltrans 2010 Construction Contract Standards, followed by questions and answers, will provide an overview of the 2010 Standards.  Topics will include:

  • Why did Caltrans create the 2010 Construction Contract Standards?
  • Brief review on the specifications style and format.
  • Review of the 2010 Standard Specifications and associated Standard Special Provisions.
  • Frequently asked questions, such as, “What happened to the Order of Work?”

The webinar will be recorded and posted for viewing by those who cannot attend but if you'd like to attend in person you can register at  

I've noticed that it sometimes gives a busy error when you go to the website so be patient and refresh a couple of times.  There are likely many people trying to register right now.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Caltrans Construction Contract Standards

Just a short update... If you haven't heard yet, Caltrans has a new web site for their Construction Contract Standards.  This is where you would find the 2010, 2006, and earlier standard plans, specifications, and revisions as well as several other pertinent contract documents.

The new address is:

Update your bookmarks!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dig This

So I know that this website is primarily dedicated to the boring everyday ins and outs of quality control but I could not help myself when I saw this and had to share it with you.

For those of you who have family members who don't appreciate what we do or, heck, if you just want to travel back in time to digging in the sand box, there is now an attraction in Las Vegas called "Dig This-Heavy Equipment Playground" where you can "play" with a a CAT D5G Bulldozer or CAT 315CL Hydraulic Excavator.

Dig This  takes you through a safety orientation, in-cab orientation, and warm up exercises before the real fun begins with activities like "Excavator Basketball" and "Bulldozer Teeter-Totter".  After that you even have free time to dink around with the equipment!  I'm not usually one for advertising businesses on the blog but with ConExpo on the horizon in March I thought this might be something that could make your trip just a little more fun between the exhibits and fancy dinners.

Check it out at!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Caltrans Allowing Changes Up to 25% RAP

Today Caltrans posted a Construction Procedure Directive on their website that allows contractors to use up to 25% RAP for any ongoing contracts under either the 2010 OR 2006 specifications.  If you are constructing any 2006 or 2010 specified Caltrans job, you now have the ability to file a change order to use a dense mix with up to 25% RAP.  (RAP is still not allowed in Rubber or Open-Graded mixes in any portion at this time)  This change order work will be at no additional cost to the state and contract time will not be extended.  It should be noted that with a change from 15% to up to 25% RAP, there are additional testing and documentation requirements so be sure that you are aware of these additional costs before you submit a change order to this effect. The contractor will be responsible for these costs, not the state.

I would also love to tell you that there will be no credit owed to the state for this change but the documentation on Caltran's website contradicts itself.  In the "Record of Blanket Prior Approval for Major Contract Change Order", the following paragraph appears:
"There will be no credit or cost to the state as a result of this change. The credit will be based on the differences in the costs of HMA with 15 percent RAP versus HMA with up to 25 percent. Force account analysis for credits shall be filed in the project’s records. The credits will vary on a project by project basis."

At this time, since it is unclear whether Caltrans will require a credit from you due to the reduction of virgin asphalt in the mix, I recommend that you verify with your RE before making the change.

The Construction Procedure Directive can be found here and includes:

  • Sample Change Order Memorandum
  • Sample Backup Calculations
  • Sample Change Order
  • Change Order Specification for 2010 Specifications
  • Change Order Specification for 2006 Specifications
  • FHWA-Record of Blanket Prior Approval for Major Contract Change Orde

Good luck & happy recycling!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Superpave Web Page

For those of you who are interested in following the Caltrans Superpave process, we've updated Quality in California's Superpave web page to be more informative and more interactive. The Rock Products Committee's Subtask Group for Superpave asked us to create a web page that will help Caltrans and Industry share information as we move through the specification writing process. You can access this new updated page at the link on the toolbar above that says "Superpave". On this page we'll keep the most updated versions of the Superpave Pilot Specifications & Superpave JMF forms. In addition, this page will serve as the information hot spot for following what is going on in the Subtask group and we will keep the most recent documents from the Subtask group meetings including meeting information, group memory documents, and the industry concerns working list.

Most importantly, this page will allow you to view all of the information that has been shared on the most pressing industry concerns and allows you to post any of your own data, information, and opinions to help Caltrans and Industry come to an agreement on each issue. The current issues that industry is collecting information and data on are:

1. The Hamburg testing temperature being changed from 122F to 140F.
2. Whether the 120psi requirement for RHMA will be problematic.
3. Whether the minimum binder content of 7.5% DWM for RHMA will be problematic.
4. The Dust Proportion requirements for 3/8" HMA set at 0.9-2.0 being too high.
5. The VMA requirements for dense mixes being too high.
6. Whether the RAP Maximum Specific Gravity Tolerance of +/- 0.060 is necessary.

Visit the Superpave webpage when you get a chance, share your information, and let us know if you have any issues with the page!

Friday, April 12, 2013

AMRL Accreditation

On April 2 I gave a presentation on AMRL Accreditation at the CalAPA Bay Area Technical Committee Meeting in San Leandro.  Special thanks to everyone that attended and participated in the discussion!

The presentation covered the steps you'll need to go through to become AMRL accredited for the upcoming Superpave specifications in addition to a breakdown of how much the whole process costs.  You can download the presentation from the CalAPA website here.  In addition, here are a few resources that may help you through the process:

AMRL Resources:
AMRL Website:
AMRL Assessment Preparation Lists:

Other Resources:
California Asphalt Pavement Association:

If you are curious about the CalAPA Technical Advisory Committee Meetings, they are free meetings held at various locations throughout the state on a regular basis (usually once every 2 months) where people from all parts of the industry as well as government agencies can get together and share technical information and network.  In my personal opinion this is one of the greatest features that CalAPA offers as it gives you an opportunity to learn about what's new in asphalt pavement as well as discuss any statewide issues that are occurring.  I'd highly recommend attending a couple meetings to see what they can do for you and your business.  You can learn more about these meetings from contacting CalAPA.  Their website is  In the meantime check out their technical committee page here where you can view various presentations and other information shared at some of these meetings.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 2013 RSP Samples Being Distributed

April's RSP samples will be shipped this week.  They will include a sample for CT 202-Coarse Aggregates.  If you do not receive your sample by the end of the week you should contact Caltrans at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hamburg Wheel Track Seminar

If you haven't heard already, CalAPA is putting on a seminar on April 10, 2013 about the Hamburg Wheel Tracking Test (AASHTO 324).  It will be taught by yours truly and after completing this seminar, attendees will have learned:

  • What the Hamburg Wheel Tracking (HWT) tests for and why it is important
  • Why Caltrans is implementing the HWT test.
  • How the current Caltrans standard specifications utilize the HWT test
  • How the upcoming Superpave specifications will utilize the HWT test
  • What type of time & capital commitments are required with the new specifications of the HWT test
  • How to read and understand a HWT graph (test results)
  • What the HWT test results mean
  • What factors can affect the test results
and of course, answers to all of their burning questions about the HWT test!

Why is it important you attend this class?
Take this limited time opportunity to hear about the most up to date specifications in regards to the Hamburg wheel track test including those that are already active in today's Caltrans Section 39.  Discover the impact that these specifications will have on your laboratory and/or bottom line while also witnessing an experienced lab technician walk you through the test with a physical demonstration of each step from start to finish.  With only a few active Hamburg wheel tracking devices in the state, you can't afford to miss this chance to learn about the test that WILL affect you within the next 12 months and for years to come!

You can register for the seminar here.  I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Section 39 RSS Released (2/22/13)

Caltrans released another Revised Standard Specification (RSS) on 2/22/13, outside of their normal once per quarter release schedule.  Included were many changes to section 39, most revolving around RAP.  Here are a couple of the major changes:
  • You are now allowed to use up to 25% RAP by total weight of aggregate in your dense hot mixes (as opposed to 15% in the past)  RAP is still not allowed in Open Grade or Rubber mixes.
  • If you decide to add more than 15% RAP to your mix you will now be held to additional requirements including:
    • Quality standards to meet Hamburg Wheel Track Test and TSR specifications
    • A quality standard to keep the binder content of your RAP within 2% of your average RAP binder content
    • A quality standard to keep the RICE value of your RAP within 0.06 of the average RAP RICE value
    • Additional sampling requirements which require 1 sample of each RAP product to be sampled every 1000 tons of crushing, a minimum of 6 per stockpile. If the RAP is augmented, the spec requires that you increase this to 1 sample of each RAP product to be sampled every 500 tons of crushing.
    • You must fractionate your RAP into two different products, separated on the 1/4" sieve
    • You must sample and test the RAP gradation when you are producing hot mix twice per day as opposed to once per day with less than 15% RAP.
    • You may only adjust your RAP feeder settings by ± 3% as opposed to 5% if you have less than 15% RAP.

  •   There are now additional cases where you will now need to submit a new JMF including:
    • If you change the substitution rate by 3% or more (5% for mixes with less than 15% RAP)
    • If the average binder content of your RAP changes by 2% or more
    • If the RICE value of your RAP changes by 0.06 or more
  • The specification now not only designates the allowed substitution rate by weight of aggs, but also regulates the maximum binder replacement.  This value is different for surface courses (25% of OBC) versus leveling courses (40% of OBC).
  • If you replace more than 25% of the optimum binder content in your mix with RAP you will now be required to use a softer binder with the PG grade upper and lower temperature classifications reduced 6°C from the specified binder.  For example if the specifications specify PG 64-16 you will now be required to use a PG 58-22.  You are also allowed to request this change if you add any RAP at all in your mix.
In non-RAP related changes:
  • VMA, VFA, and DP are now report only.
  • In QC/QA jobs you are now only required to test your mix for CT 371 every 10,000 tons instead of 5,000 tons.  These results are still report only unless you have greater than 15% RAP in your mix.
As you may know, you can view red lined copies (including the RSS changes mentioned in this post) of the 2010 Standard Specification's Section 39 on our website at the tab above labeled "Caltrans Section 39 Updates".  I highly recommend you read over the 2/22/13 RSS changes since there are so many large ones this time.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CT 202 RSP Sample Announced for April

Today Caltrans announced that the next set of RSP samples will be testing labs' proficiency in CT 202 (Method of Test for Determining Sieve Analysis of Fine and Coarse Aggregates). These samples will be distributed in April of 2013. A check for $250 must be mailed to Caltrans by March 20, 2013 in order to register for the sample. If you did not receive this announcement from Caltrans and have a laboratory that performs CT 202 you should contact the Caltrans RSP program at Good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Maximum Aggregate Size & Nominal Maximum Aggregate Size

If you're like me you have probably been confused about what "Maximum Aggregate Size" and "Nominal Maximum Aggregate Size" mean at least once or twice in your career.  The main reason for this is is that there are several different definitions.

In the August 2003 version of CT 382, nominal maximum aggregate size is defined as one sieve size smaller than the maximum aggregate size.  The maximum aggregate size is defined as the smallest sieve size that requires 100% passing.  For example, in the following gradation:

Percent Passing
3/4" : 100%
1/2" : 95%
3/8" : 89%
#4 : 63%
#8 : 39%

By the CT 382 definition, the maximum aggregate size is 3/4" and the nominal maximum aggregate size is 1/2".

In the November 2011 version of CT 202, nominal maximum aggregate size is defined as "one sieve size larger than the first size to retain more than 10%."  By this definition the nominal maximum aggregate size for the material example above is also 1/2".  However, if there were only 91% passing the 3/8" the nominal maximum aggregate size for that material would be 3/8", not 1/2".

Neither of these are the same definition as outlined in the Asphalt Institute's MS-2 guide for Mix Design Methods.  In the MS-2 definition the maximum particle size is defined as "two sizes larger than the first sieve to retain more than 10% of the material".  Although this definition uses the word "particle" instead of the word "aggregate" it can still be easily confused.  In the gradation example above, the nominal maximum particle size is 3/4" because the 3/8" is the first sieve to retain more than 10% of the material (11%) under the MS-2 definition.

In yet another definition, the Asphalt Institute's SP-2 guide for Superpave Mix Design defines maximum size as "one sieve size larger than the nominal maximum size".  The nominal maximum size is defined as "one sieve size larger than the first sieve to retain more than 10%".  By these definitions the material example above would have a maximum size of  3/4" and a nominal maximum size of 1/2".

So why does this matter?  What are these definitions even used for?  For the most part, in HMA, its just semantics and the definition will not affect your test results, just give you a whole lot of confusion in talking about it with other people.  For instance, nominal maximum aggregate size is usually a way to define the size of a mix when you're referring to it.  So when you're saying 1/2" HMA people generally know what that means.  Where you might see a problem is in drawing the maximum density line to help with designing a mix's gradation.  The maximum density gradation line represents the tightest arrangement that the mix's particles can fit together.  According to the Asphalt Institute's MS-2 this line is created by drawing a straight line from the origin to the desired maximum particle size which is defined for you.  However, if you use the wrong definition you could be setting yourself up for some major confusion and maybe even some unnecessary mix designs.

Maximum Density Line for 25mm Maximum Particle Size
When designing your mix you will use the maximum density gradation line as a guide for increasing or decreasing VMA.  Moving the mix gradation away from the maximum density gradation line will increase your VMA and can reduce flushing.  However, if you're using the wrong maximum density line you may very well be making things worse.

What stories do you have where the definition of maximum aggregate size and/or nominal maximum aggregate size has made a difference on the quality of your mix?

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Section 39 RSS Released

Today Caltrans released a new RSS for the 2010 Standard Specifications that included a change to section 39.  The changes were limited to section 39-1.11 Transporting, Spreading, and Compacting.  The RAP changes that were proposed earlier last month did not make it into this quarter's RSS.

As you may know, you can view red lined copies (including today's RSS changes) of the 2010 Standard Specification's Section 39 on our website at the tab above labeled "Caltrans Section 39 Updates".  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More WMA Technologies Approved!

As of the January 9, 2013 update, Caltrans has pre-approved 9 warm mix technologies for the contractor option specification.  The contractor option specification for Warm Mix Asphalt allows the contractor to use warm mix as opposed to hot mix with no additional charge to Caltrans.  As a contractor you can use any of the technologies on the approved technologies with little to no additional work on your part.  You may also be able to use a technology not already pre-approved as long as you follow the approval process for new warm mix technologies found here.

The list of pre-approved technologies can be found here and has the following technologies as of 1/9/13.

Additive Technologies

Water Injection Technologies
You can find more information on each of the technologies by clicking on its name above.  Good luck!