I had the pleasure of attending the World of Asphalt in Baltimore last month and the two big topics of conversation were the highway bill (or lack of one) and intelligent compaction.
There was not a lot of optimism on the show floor about Congress and the president getting together to come up with a long-term solution to our serious infrastructure funding problems. Most manufacturer and equipment dealer representatives as well as paving contractors are resigned to the fact that we’ll likely have another kicking-the-can-down-the-street extension bill, but nothing more than that. The debate in D.C. will again be centered around whether or not to raise the federal gas tax and how best to spend the money, which in this political environment is enough to kill it.
The other hot topic at World of Asphalt was intelligent compaction, or IC. Not exactly a new technology or paving goal, IC however is evolving to the point where virtually every roller manufacturer is unveiling and/or developing new efficient and productive ways to get compacting right the first time or close to it. State DOTs have always been stringent with their density requirements, but with funding the way it is today, when they say they want a 30-year lifespan they mean it more. IC has grown to be a lot like a video game in that while an operator is doing a pass, he or she can see on a mounted tablet or another comparable digital display the precise GPS-guided compaction rate, which can then be communicated to the operator behind him so that he can focus on a particular spot or section. The technology is not cheap; it can add upwards of $40,000 to a roller price tag, but it does provide a quick ROI in that you don’t have to perform as many passes, which results in fuel savings and less wear and tear on the machines.
And in an unrelated matter, these profiles are as much about the person being profiled as it is about the town, village and city in which he or she works. We typically try to include a section at the end about the town, its history and what distinguishes the area from other areas in New York. Sometimes, rather than create something from scratch based on research, there’s something in-depth and well written that we’ll simply reprint. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel and that was the case with the town of Nassau in the March edition. However, we did not properly attribute it (which we always have done, except in this instance.) We’re doing that now. Here is the link to the Web site from which we reprinted the history of the town of Nassau: http://history.rays-place.com/ny/ren-nassau-ny.htm