Chapter 1 – In the Beginning
What other business could keep doing things the same way they have been since 1956 and still be in business today? I mean, does anyone reading this book right now still use a rotary dial up phone? Anyone still listening to 8 track tapes, vinyl records, cassette tapes? How about your cameras, anyone still buying film in rolls? Just the other day while at Torrey Pines Beach the kids were using their iPhones with some special device to do Kodak instant photos like we used to do with the big clunky cameras.
And yet, each week as I drive the Better Roads Bus across North America I see literally billions of dollars being wasted milling up asphalt roads, breaking up concrete roads, dumping our resources into the desert ditches or piling the rubble up into mountanous stockpiles. As a former Vice President of a paving and reclamation firm, I used to bid upwards of 50 million dollars of work each year. And as a college instructor, estimating is something I do in my sleep so to speak. So imagine how painful it is for me as a drive through a construction site, risking my life as I am being forced to drive at 60 miles an hour on a two lane section of Interstate with the only thing beside me and the oncoming Mack Truck being a 40 pound reflective delineator barrel.
This is so wrong. I mean if taking care of 4 million miles of roadways in America or anywhere for the matter was a private sector firm, and we knew that we could take care of it for 40% less money in half the time, wouldn’t we have done it? Of course we would have, because like we see so often in the private sector, when firms don’t stay innovative and keep up with current technology and best practices they simply go bankrupt and expire.
So here is where we are at in the simplest form I can put this. If we don’t start changing the way we take care of our roads (don’t even get me started on our bridges) according to www.smartgrowthamerica.com we are spending 57% of our GDP on 1.3% of our roadway system building additional lanes. If you do the math that means we are spending a measly 43% of the GDP on the other 98.7% trying to take care of it all. Everything.
In the beginning, when we built the Interstate System in USA (plug in whatever system of roadways you have in your country) I don’t suspect much thought went into how we were going to preserve it. And now with the little bit of revenue generated with the gas tax, we are faced with an incredible plight of having to maintain, preserve, and rehabilitate our aging roadways.
Now I can’t control what went on in the past with our forefathers, and how they rehabilitated the roads in this country and the world, but I damn sure am not going to sit here and watch us pilfer away billions of dollars when I KNOW we can be doing more with less money and less carbon footprint in half the time. I made a promise to one pavement engineer that I would not pick on what agencies have done in the past, like before there were milling machines and such. But there is absolutely NO REASON why we are not following The Three Legged Stool™ Pavement Management System today and forever into the future.
Now let me do some explaining here. I want to make it perfectly clear to you that while reading this book and referring back to it regularily that there are champions out there implementing everything that I am teaching in this book. These champions are generally going to have APM™ after their name or have the knowledge that comes with this Accredited Pavement Manager™ Certification. These are the pavement managers, consultants, vendors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers that have taken the time to digest 70 hours of online training to become better stewards of their infrastructure.
In addition to the APM™ Alumni and those currently enrolled there are also a small army of people that embrace all the elements that are taught in IPMA™ Academy. Moreover, several large State DOTs, and Industry Trade Associations understand this Book and the message and vision that it contains.
It is unfortunate however, that these Champions above cannot single handidly resurect our economy and our infrastructure. Currently our roadways sit at a decrepit D + rating according to ASCE, the American Society of Civil Engineers current Report Card. And at this vary time in history, even with FHWA promoting all things sustanibility and preservation in their current Transportation Bill MAP 21, there are still some high ranking US DOT officials out there along with industry trade association staff , and even State DOT Officials sabatoging efforts to do anything different than a thin overlay, medium overlay and thick overlay.
In simplest of terms, the naysayers rebell against change and all of the ecological and economical benefits associated with doing things differently and better. Ironically, in The Three Legged Stool System™ of Pavement Management, the hot mixed asphalt producers and Portland concrete roadbuilders and bridge builders will actually get substantially more work by freeing up the funds that are being wasted doing things the same old way since 1956 – the year that our Interstate System was started.
As I mentioned in the Introduction, I am taking the high road and sticking to it wherever possible but…..
Imagine if you will, I have spent the last two decades of my life teaching and saving agencies just like you millions and millions of dollars doing pavement management, in place pavement recycling and pavement preservation. I have taught National Highway Institute Workshops, developed and delivered curriculum for three prominent universities, IPMA™, NWETC, APWA, LTAP, TTAP, and on and on. A few short months ago I was standing in front of a US DOT Official who blatenly told me that he thought a lot of these processes were “snake oil” and wasn’t sure they were going to work.
I mean, we have some State DOTs going back now and re recycling roads that they recycled 22 years ago or more. These agencies have saved 600 million dollars in doing so to date or more. FHWA has spent tens of thousands sponsoring the NHI Workshop developments, and re developments and many thousands more on the Basic Asphalt Reycling Manual. And this man stands in front of me, with my tax dollars paying his salary and says “snake oil”?
How about the fact that a few short days after our consulting side of the business has gone in and delivered an absolute rock solid pavement management plan for getting an agency onto better roadways for less money with pavement preservation and in-place pavement recycling, a local State DOT staffer goes in under the guise of a concerened citizen and convinces the Chairman and his Commission that my professional advice is not good, and those treatments I speak of are “snake oil”, and they really should consider doing thin overlays, medium overlays and thick overlays, and chip seal.
But, strangely enough, one of the treatments this “concerned citizen” speaks of was used during the timing of a high profile international event in this same state (600,000 SY or more) and a TRB report from State Officials of this State went on record touting the benefits of this same treatment that I recommended as one of the preservation techniques in my final pavement management report.
So there you have it, the impetus for me to sit here and type this Book on Better Roads for you to enjoy and learn from. Had it not been for that day so many short months ago, I may have procrastinated forever and never served up this simple guide to resurecting our infrastructure and economy. We can put a man on the moon, we sure as heck can have better roads!
Now on a positive note, several state agencies like Utah DOT, and Caltran to name a few invite me out each and every year to train their staff. In fact I was recently asked by a Utah DOT Official to do the keynote speech for their annual meeting. They get it. Big shout out to folks like Reed Ryan at UAPA, Utah Asphalt Pavement Association – they get it. Their paving contractor members took very little time to figure out that with the Three Legged Stool System™ of Pavement Management, they could increase their tonnage out of their plants by 20%!
I emplore you, as an Elected Official, Ratepayer, or everyday Normal Citizen, learn all there is to know about what is going on in the close door meetings with the local contractors and your staff about all things pavment management, preservation and in place pavement recycling. If you want to do more with less, you have got to take heed to the warning signs.
In a day and age where agencies are grinding up their hard topped surfaces and reverting them back to dirt roads, you must understand that in the beginning, there may have not have been a solution – but today there is, and you have no excuse to keep doing things the same old way. In Part Two of this Book, there will be countless case studies to prove to you that there is hope. But you have to implement. It is not enough to just watch the videos and read the Book.
Even after you have registered your book at www.thebookonbetterroads.com/register you will have to empower your pavement managers and engineering staff to make the critical changes to your pavmeent management system. And if you don’t have a system in place, for 2 cents a square yard, you can save ten bucks a square yard by proper selection of the requisite treatments. That is a $9.98/SY net gain in my books and I am not the brightest light bulb in the fridge!
Now I don’t puport to be a genius in any one of the areas that I will talk about in the Book, but I can tell you that the bean counters, you know the City Managers, CFOs, and County Managers always perk up a bit and have a sparkle in their eye when I mention that doing pavement management annually or at least every three years or so gives the GASB 34 Auditors reason to give your City or County a better bond rating!
So, bottom line in this Chapter if I have said it properly is that this is the biggest no brainer in all of mankind, and if it weren’t for the naysayers out there backstabbing the efforts of the Champions, our country (plug in your country if you are outside of USA) could have much better roads for less money and less carbon footprint!