Another Exerpt From The Book on Better Roads

During our discussion in this book we talk about StreetSaver® and MicroPAVER™, because these are the two most popular pavement management systems in the world. They are both publicly available, without having to go through a proprietary purchase from a sole source vendor or consulting firm. Furthermore, our consulting side of the business, uses these two software systems exclusively for their city and county clients across America.

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I specifically like the fact that FHWA recognizes these two systems, and as far as I can tell, they are the only two pavement management software systems that are ASTM 6433 approved.

That being said, I would encourage you as a local agency, trying to set up a pavement management system for the first time in your life to investigate all of the options that are available to you at the time in your specific region and meet your specific needs.

So, real quick disclaimer here folks… Again, some of the views we’ll talk about in this book are really not views of our Academic Partners (TBD), NCAT (National Center for Asphalt Technology) or IPMA™ Charter Members, or the IPMA™ Advisory Board, or any of our members and partners for that matter.

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Sometimes I might just tell you some personal thoughts as I write this book, and I am open to any and all feedback along the way whoever you are reading this book.

So, we’re not here to endorse anyone. I just want to be perfectly clear on that. You see, many of the “non biased” trade associations and centers that we hear from on a regular basis seem to have their own personal agenda. Believe me, after spending over 30 years in this industry and sitting behind the closed doors of many a board room meeting, it has become all too apparent to me that almost everyone seems to have an agenda.

One difference, my only agenda as I write this book is to save our crumbling roads, period. As such, I am willing to ripple the water a little bit where necessary to get the results that I know we are capable of achieving if we all JOIN together and make this journey happen.

So, what have I learned driving 80,000 miles in an RV? I’ve banged my head every day for the last 100 days. Well first of all, because there’s not a lot of room inside there. I’ve learned, Perception. You know, I’ve gone to cities like Flagstaff, Arizona where they say they have 243 freeze/thaw cycles. So imagine you don’t have freeze/thaw to deal with in your particular city or county. What are some of the unique characteristics you may endure in terms of your pavement management in your region? It’s like, you build a road and it’s going to stay pretty good without the risk of freeze/thaw damage. We’ve seen that all of these treatments that are mentioned in this book, whether they are in-place pavement recycling or pavement preservation treatments. They are all work!

The pavement management systems work in every city in every county. And along the way I’ve learned that our US paving contractors can increase their tonnage from 600 million tons to 800 million tons a year (plug in your own Country and tonnage increases if you are reading abroad). By simply moving the money over from, you know doing these sequential overlays, and asphalt that is being wasted on the wrong roads at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons.

We know this, that asphalt has got a 20 year service life if it’s properly preserved. For example, when our crews go in and do the pavement management, and I take cores with the core drill, it’s quite often that I come across a road that’s only 22 years old. And it has, 8 sequential hot mixed asphalt overlays on it based on the core.

If you take 22 and divide it by 8, what is that? Like say, 24 divided by 8 is like every 3 years right? So, I don’t know if that was on the election cycle or what, but we cannot continue to do this in America or the world. We’re going to be in dire straits if we continue to do that. And there’s no reason. And, I brought this with me from Canada, back in like 1999. I actually had to put this through the x-ray at Buffalo Airport.

They said, “what the heck do you have that in your suitcase for?” I said, “Well man, I’m going to go to America and try to change the world.” And I’m still working on it, and all I can say is that I don’t feel like I’m alone anymore. People like you that have bought this book are helping to support this movement. This is 6 inches of foamed asphalt base with two and a half inches of asphalt on top. And I’m not allow to guarantee it or anything for FTC Guidelines, but I could almost guarantee that if I drove back to Wellington County, where I used to live in Canada, that this road is still in place. And holding up very, very well. And you know what the difference is?

The top one cost about a hundred dollars a square yard (the 10 inch core of sequential overlays). And the bottom one (foamed asphalt base with overlay) costs us about twenty-five dollars per square yard. You guys get the picture?

Gets me to thinking again, by saying, “What if…?” What if there is a better way? What if our grandchildren weren’t going to be trillions of dollars in debt? What if the Federal Highways Administration and the White House sent a very strong message down to the local agencies and state DOTs and said, “Thou Must recycle and preserve and manage your pavements instead of, “You really ought to consider this but here is the money, do whatever you want with it. “

What if we weren’t trillions in debt and we had better roads? What if we didn’t have D+ infrastructure with our roadways and bridges crumbling? Like, people dying on unsafe bridges and roads? What if we redirected the funds that we have been wasting on sequential overlays for no reason to placing the hot mixed asphalt overlays on top of recycled and stabilized bases that act as a perpetual pavement so to speak, and here’s the kicker, okay?

You may know of a local paving company somewhere here in the States or in your own Country that goes out and they do a lot of hot mix asphalt paving every day. What if, every time they pulled out of the yard they had a shuttle buggy (MTV or Material Transfer Vehicle) and they were putting 2600 tons a day down? On Full Depth Reclaimed (FDR) roads.

What if? They get more profit. They’ll get more tonnage. You know, I think a lot of people in the industry that we’ve met would appreciate more tonnage and more profit. This is happening right now in regions where The Three Legged Stool™ Stystem of Pavement Management is taking off.

For example, I was just in Utah last week doing the Utah Asphalt Pavement Conference, UAPA as they call it. Their Executive Director, Reed Ryan of the Asphalt Paving Association Conference asked me to come out and bring this vary message to his contractors. There’s like a hundred people in the crowd and half of them were contractors. Paving contractors, just like the ones in your city and county.

At the end of the two hours I was presenting I said, “you guys get this?” And they’re all like, “yeah, hell yeah.” And they actually came up after and said, “where can we buy the recycling and preservation equipment? And how many pulverizers should we get?” And yet, other states are resistant to change and they don’t want preservation or in-place recycling or pavement management for that matter. It is common knowledge that even when FHWA puts on a big fancy workshop and they have 17 or so different state DOTs present their findings on how their recycling programs are working, there always seems to be one Negative Nelly in the crowd that stands up in front of all of the other state DOT officials and says something like, “we’re not sure that is going to work in our state, we are still doing some research.”

REALLY? Should that person even have a job? That is what I would be asking!

So, this Three Legged Stool System™ of Pavement Management is the solution to the problem that I have presented so far in this book. I have the perception from 30 years of construction, 20 years of that teaching, and having flown and driven to every corner of North America. And I know it works, Nevada DOT right now, to this date, has saved well over 600 million dollars by doing pavement management, in place pavement recyclinga and pavement preservation.

Here, I will repeat that in case you weren’t paying attention. 600 million dollars by doing pavement management, in-place recycling and pavement preservation. And now they are going back and re-recycling roads that are 22 year old. The paving contractors, I guarantee you, are getting the same amount of tonnage or more. Nothing has changed except that their state is doing more with less money and less carbon footprint in less time.

How could it be Blair that there are still some hold out states and local cities and counties that are following their dumb ass advice you may be asking yourself? One day at a time the walls will come crumbling down, and each and every state will find their way out of the dinosaur days, put away their 8 track tapes and vinyl records, and rotary dial phones, and save their job by doing what is right for this planet. I trust that when you close the last page on this book, and read the case studies I will present to you, that there will be irrefutable proof that we can ressurect our economy and have better roads for all!

Now, I’m going to take you guys back to a few years ago. Because there is one of my mentors from Federal Highways, Mr. Jim Sorenson, he was a very, very staunch advocate for pavement preservation and we sat down at the Charleston, South Carolina at an expert task group meeting, and he looked me right in the eye and he told me, he said, “Blair, if America ever fully gets this…” and I think was he was alluding to was that, sometimes we feel like we’re talking to the proverbial wall.

If we could get people to stop watching the TV and quit worrying about the Oscars and the Emmys and the Housewives or whatever that show is, if we could get them to think about preserving our infrastructure, our most valuable resource.

Jim emphatically stated to me, “with 4 million miles of roads in America, if this Country every fully adopts this pavement preservation thing, there will never be enough equipment manufactured quick enough or enough qualified workforce available!”

And if you folks reading this book have ever tried to get hire a motor grader operator lately, you know what it’s like, right? It’s hard to get qualified labor at any price. Isn’t it? Most everybody I know, and half of America is working in North Dakota now, on the fracking operations. So think about, if you’re in Montana and you’ve got a motor grader operator with your local agency, that can strike a match with a motor grader, he’s gone, he’s gone over there to North Dakota to work and make a lot of money.

So it’s hard to get people to work, it’s hard to get the equipment manufactured quick enough, and right now a lot of the pavement preservation and recycling equipment is being shipped to other countries. Why, because they get it. So heed the warning signs here. You say, “Blair, tell me a little bit more about this theory, why do you think it’s going to work?”

Here’s the reasoning why. We have 4 million miles of roads here in America. We do 600 million tons a year of asphalt, we recycle 100 million tons of that back at the plant and a little bit in place on the roads, but we really truly only recycle in-place about 3% of our roads. Only about 10% of the American public knows what preservation is but we all want to fix the window in our house, or the shingles on our roof if it starts leaking right?

I’m the first person who wants to fix a window on my house if it’s broken, so I did a quick calculation. Because I used to estimate 50 million dollars worth of work a year for a living as a Vice President of a paving and reclamation firm this is like second nature to me. I just always want to figure out numbers and tonnages, and square yards, and all that good stuff everywhere I travel.

If every city and county has a 20% backlog deficit that they are never going to get to, and trust me when I say that you have that as a reader of this book, you may have just inherited it or you may have been saddled with it all your life (refer back to episode 5 with Hans from City of San Jose).

If you’ve got a 10 million dollar backlog deficit of bad roads that you’re never getting to, that’s never going to go away unless we change how we manage our pavements. So based on the Three Legged Stool™ System of Pavement Management, we can increase the tonnage in America to 800 million tons by following the methods outlined right here in this book.

Does everyone understand that? Maybe you can’t read my scribbling below. It’s like a doctor’s prescription here. But it will take 215 year to eliminate the backlog deficit at 20%. This is a very simple prescription for America and for the world.

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And like Pat Faster the President of the Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association told us when he was speaking a while back, some agencies actually have a backlog deficit of 40 and 50%.

So, the Book on Better Roads, whether you are reading it on your Kindle today or listening to it on your CD player, when you get a chance to take a break, check out

So if you go to that website, this is what you see, we’ve got the Driving America, you can look at some of the free pavement management videos along the way from stunning National Parks all over America, and Niagra Falls in Canada. We’ve got the IPMA™ the International Pavement Management Association, you guys are welcome to join that as local agency folks at no charge. Just want to remind you that anytime you want to go on there just type in your name and you are a member of IPMA™ no strings attached.

As a registered IPMA™ Member you will receive monthly PDH Power Hour Training Webinars at no charge as well, (PDH and CEU Certificates will be available for a nominal cost). And you will also receive discounted costs for a lot of the other DVDs, CDs, Books etc. and maybe we’ll give you guys a break on the books and that sort of stuff, and occasionally even our IPMA™ Academy, 70 hours of online training, the most comprehensive pavement management, in-place recycling and preservation course curriculum ever built in this lifetime.

You get an Accredited Pavement Management™ Certification when you’re done. APM™ to put after your name on your business cards or your linkedin profile.

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On the website you will also see a link out to, the only podcast on this planet dedicated to saving our crumbling roads. You can dial into Better Roads Radio 24/7 and listen to a lot of the citiy and county engineers as we have discussed things along the way.

Often, we actually record live podcast sessions from our stages when we are providing live pavement management training. On the same website you will see our link out to The Book on Better Roads, we’ve captured this amazing journey in printed and audio format with the solution out there for all the public to see, and all the city and county engineers in America.

We polled our audience in Boise, Idaho when we did the conference for IACERS, and they come up with the top 10 things they wanted to see in this book. After that we sent out an additional request for more information that city and county engineers wanted to see in this book and we got over 250 responses with questions statements that people wanted to hear more about like up-to-date case studies and the likes of that.

We got the Barnhardt Group Consulting Firm Pacific and Atlantic Division listed at The Barnhardt Group (TBG) does the pavement management and much of the actual job site work provides the training videos for IPMA™ Academy and the free BONUS content for this Book. TBG is a small boutique firm, we go everywhere in America to do the full-scale pavement management implementation or even QC/QA corelations for local agencies who already have a program in place.

We can take on 6 or 7 jobs a year period, and we book up relatively quickly each year with repeat business. So if you are looking at setting up a pavement management system implementation please let us know as soon as possible. Otherwise, we’ll just have to go on a backlog, first come – first serve basis.

Also listed under the Driving America for Better Roads website is keynote speaking. This is something I really enjoy doing because it gets me out there across this great Country, meeting a lot of really great folks. For example, the UAPA Conference folks, when I was other there a while back the guys from Utah DOT asked me to come back in later that season and do a Keynote talk for their annual DOT meeting. So they get it.

And finally, The Marketplace is where you can buy all the products we are talking about in the book, and the Press Room is where you can find all the latest press releases on all things IPMA™, IPMA™ Academy, and IPMA™ Academy Live.

Please keep in mind here that my goal is for the reader of the book to understand all that we do back here at headquarters to see how we may be of assistance to your local agency. The placement of this screenshot below is in no way meant to be an advertisement, and if you never hire our firm or join our association, or attend our APM™ Training that is perfectly ok.

I want you to know me as I get to know the readership of the book, because along the way it is only through my network of friends and colleagues in this industry that I have garnered the background information possible to put pen to paper and write this book.


Screenshot of the website

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Take for example, Dr. Mike Hetizman from NCAT (National Center for Asphalt Technology). I met Mike up in his laboratory at NCAT a few weeks ago and he took me for a tour again of that fabulous laboratory just outside the Auburn University Campus.

Almost a decade or so ago, Mike and I first met at Iowa DOT. At the time Mike was the Chief Bituminous Engineer at Iowa DOT he was having us provide his staff with the National Highway Institute (NHI) In-Place Asphalt Recycling Technologies Workhsop. Ironically, our journey began when we first met with a tour in his Iowa DOT laboratory with Mike showing me his custom made foamed asphalt testing aparatus.

Each week I get the opportunity to meet great local agency engineers while we do the pavement management or live training events. In addtion we have the learners enrolled in IPMA™ Academy and those that provide feedback after purchasing our DVD and CD sets. Then there are the Better Roads Radio Podcast Sessions. These are always a bunch of fun!

One of the Podcast Episodes had us in Richmond, Virginia with Thomas and Kenny. That’s podcast episode 4 I believe. Go on and listen to Kenny, Richmond Virginia, one of the oldest cities in America. So, Kenny, you did this hot-in-place recycling in Richmond? He said, “Hell Yeah, we did over 240,000 square yards for the very first job here and we love it.”

I promised to stay on the high road for the rest of the book and I’m never going to talk derogatory about the industry, or any one company, or any one state. But I am going to tell it like it is. So I hope you guys can appreciate that. I’m trying to be perfectly frank. If we all dream big, we can make this happen. But you have to grab the bull by the horns and say, “ damn it Blair, I get this. “ How many people get this so far? Let me hear you say, “hell Yeah.” That was pretty lame. Let’s do that one more time and pretend we didn’t do that last one together. Ok, so if you guys are listening to everything I’ve said so far, and you get it, can I just hear a “Hell Yeah”.

All Right! I feel a lot better now, I feel like I’m not talking to the wall all of a sudden. I feel like you readers are part of this same excitement.

Now further to Chapter 3, if you’re wondering how to get more funding for your local agency here’s a perfect way to go about doing that. This is an example. I just met with these guys last week when we were in Utah with the City of Provo, they found a way to get more money. Their method is a very innovative way to increase funding and awareness for pavement preservation and rehabilitation.

Essentially the City of Provo came up with a plan where they tax the residents and businesses differently depending on how many cars a day travel into their businesses, or the library, or the BBQ restaurant, or your house, or the neighborhood. And the tax is going to be like 3 or 4 bucks a month for typical residence like us. By the way if you happen to be visiting Utah and have the opportunity to visit the Arches National Park or if you’d like to see it, just watch Driving America for Better Roads Episode 6 right here , Most all of our Episodes for Driving America for Better Roads are shot inside our National Parks in USA.

Next year we will be offering a new book on Amazon called, you guessed it “Driving America for Better Roads – The Journey To Save Our Crumbling Roads”.

As with a lot of the core content in this book, during the video episodes of the Driving America series, we talk about pavement management, pavement preservation and in-place pavement recycling along the way. In fact I may be the only person on the road with an RV that packs a guitar and diamond core drill at the same time!

Sometimes when I show up to each at a conference I also get to play in the band for the reception. Last time I taught at Utah Road School, I got the opportunity to play with the country band on Saturday night, which was made up of like the local county commissioners and city engineers. They were amazing musicians with The Intense County Band! You can listen in and watch the video of us playing right here .

We’re out there every single day trying to spread this message and here’s a typical day for me traveling in the Better Roads bus. It’s a 950 mile trip.


2 thoughts on “Another Exerpt From The Book on Better Roads

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