Tag Archives: Belknap Place

San Antonio Street Takes Lifetime Pavement Award 

The 2016 Lifetime Pavement Recognition award commemorates the oldest concrete pavement in the State of Texas.  Belknap Place in the Monte Vista Historic District of San Antonio, was placed in 1914, the pavement employed an innovative, patented process called “Granitoid,” a two-lift system with coarse aggregate in the lower lift and hard granite (indigenous trap rock) aggregate in the surface course.

Belknap Place was recognized by the Texas Historical Commission for its significance to the concrete industry, local residents, and the city of San Antonio. At more than a century old, the pavement continues to carry car, truck, and bus traffic, all with few signs of faulting or deterioration.

Accepting the award on behalf of the City of San Antonio was Al Siam Ferdous, Sr. Engineer with the Department of Transportation & Capital Improvements.  

Also on hand for the recognition were Don Taubert, Capitol Aggregates (retired); Bill Ciggelakis, is Principal-in-Charge of Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), in Dallas; and Jan Prusinski, P.E., FACI, LEED®AP, Executive Director of the Cement Council of Texas.  Along with the late Bob Lopez, former Executive Director of the Cement Council of Texas, these professionals have researched, written, and presented the story of Belknap Place in numerous forums and venues throughout the years. 

Awarded since 1994, this award is presented to the agency owner of an in-service concrete pavement that has demonstrated exceptional performance and service to its local community, state, and users.  (This recognition rotates annually between public market segments: highway, street and airport.  The 2011 award was presented for a municipal facility.)

Concrete Pavement Conference Reaches New Heights

Jeff Roesler, Ph.D., P.E., offers comments before presenting the ISCP Honorary Member award to Juan Pablo Covarrubias Torres, Sr.

Jeff Roesler, Ph.D., P.E., offers comments before presenting the ISCP Honorary Member award to Juan Pablo Covarrubias Torres, Sr.  (Photo: ISCP.)

With attendance at or above record levels, the 11th International Conference on Concrete Pavements (11th ICCP) was a success on many levels.   The conference drew an estimated 400 professionals from 26 countries, with participants representing industry, owners/agencies, and academia.

“This is the premier international conference on concrete pavements,” said Leif Wathne, P.E., ACPA Executive Vice President and chairman of the conference organizing committee, adding, “It’s also a great forum for relationship building and collaboration.”  

Organized by the International Society for Concrete Pavements (ISCP), the conference was held August 28 through September 1, 2016 in San Antonio.  The event was held in conjunction with the National Concrete Consortium (NCC) Fall Meeting.

Tech Transfer and Education
One of the hallmarks of the event is its tech transfer and education program.  The event included more than 110 poster and podium presentations, 11 workshops, exhibitor displays, and field trips.  As with the previous international conferences, the focus of the 11th ICCP was on concrete pavement design, construction, and rehabilitation.  Wathne explained that the event included a special session presented exclusively in Spanish.  The session reflects the international membership of the organization, Wathne said.

Awards and Recognitions
Another highlight of the event was the formal induction of Ing. Dr. Juan Pablo Covarrubias Torres, Sr., as an ISCP Honorary Member. Covarrubias was recognized for more 40 years of development of concrete pavement technology in Latin America. He also was recognized for his academic contributions as Professor of Engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Universidad de los Andes. He also collaborated in the formation of the ISCP in the late 1990s and served on its board of directors for several terms. 

In addition to the robust education and training forums, the ICCP event also included a student poster session (with 26 student posters), social networking events, and gala awards ceremony at Knibbe Ranch.  The following awards were presented:

  • Frank McCullough Award for Best Student Poster to Moinul I. Mahdi, Louisiana State University, “Construction and Performance Evaluation of Roller Compacted Concrete under Accelerated Testing.”
  • Bengt Friberg Award for Best Paper by a Young Author to Sushobhan Sen and Jeff Roesler, Ph.D., P.E., University of Illinois for the paper, “Albedo as an Engineering Property of Concrete Pavements.”
  • Eldon J. Yoder Outstanding Paper Award to James W. Mack, P.E., CEMEX*; Leif G. Wathne, P.E., ACPA; and Feng Mu, Ph.D., CEMEX for the paper, “Improving Network Investment Results by Implementing Competition and Asset Management in the Pavement Type Selection Process.”
Participants had the opportunity to tour the oldest concrete street in Texas (left), which is shown with a core sample atop (right).  (Photos:  ISCP and Leif Wathne.)

Participants had the opportunity to tour the oldest concrete street in Texas (left), which is shown with a core sample atop (right). (Photos: ISCP and Leif Wathne.)

Other activities included two optional field trips including a tour of the Capitol Cement* plant and Belknap Street, Texas’ oldest concrete pavement, as well as a tour of a local steel plant.

Wathne said another highlight of the event was a very moving tribute to B. Frank McCullough, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Transportation Engineering at The University of Texas – Austin; Director for the Center for Transportation Research at The University of Texas; and co-founder of the consulting firm Austin Research Engineers, according to the ISCP website.  He was also involved (with his son) in the formation of The Transtec Group*, and served as a consultant to the firm for many years.  McCullough was known and respected for his expertise and his role as a teacher and advisor.

The tribute, presented during the event’s plenary session, was moderated by Andrew Wimsatt, Ph.D., P.E., Texas Transportation Institute.  Presenters included John Hodgkinson, Grad. Dip., Pavement Consultant; Michael I. Darter, Ph.D., P.E., Applied Research Associates*; David Pittman, Ph.D., U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center; and David W. Fowler, Ph.D, University of Texas at Austin.

The conference is held every four years and carries on the tradition of a series of international conferences begun in 1977 by Purdue University, and now organized by ISCP.

* ACPA member company.


Celebrating Texas’ Oldest Concrete Pavement

Don Taubert (L) and Jan Prusinski (R) unveil the Texas Historical Commission marker detailing important facts about Belknap Place.

Don Taubert (L) and Jan Prusinski (R) unveil the Texas Historical Commission marker detailing important facts about Belknap Place.

The Monte Vista Historical Association (MVHA) and the Cement Council of Texas recently co-hosted a centennial celebration for Belknap Place, the oldest concrete street in Texas.  The event culminated with the unveiling of a Texas Historical Commission marker.

Belknap Place was paved in 1914 using a patented process called “Granitoid,” a two-lift system with coarse aggregate in the lower lift and hard granite aggregate in the surface course.  Located in the Monte Vista historic district of San Antonio, the street has served motorists well for more than a century, with some natural cracking, but little faulting or deterioration.


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About the event

The commemoration event began with a reception at the home of Richard and Leith Negley.  The concrete home, built in 1929, was originally the historic estate of Charles Baumberger Jr., former president of the Alamo Cement Company, according to Leith Negley, who also serves on the MVHA.  

The celebration continued the following morning on the grounds of the Laurel Heights United Methodist Church.  It attracted approximately 125 guests, including industry officials, local residents, volunteer leaders from the MVHA, political leaders, and others. 

From the cement and concrete industries, Don Taubert, Director of Promotion for Capitol Cement (ret.), joined with Cement Council of Texas staff, as well as representatives of the American Concrete Pavement Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, and Portland Cement Association to commemorate the century of service and the placement of the historic marker.  In addition to the MVHA and Cement Council of Texas, sponsors included the PCA, Alamo/Buzzi Cement, CEMEX, Texas Lehigh Cement, Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association, Texas Concrete Pavement Association, and Ann Van Pelt, a past-president of the MVHA.   


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More about Belknap Place
The surface aggregate and high quality of cement imparts excellent wearing characteristics, according to Jan Prusinski, P.E., Executive Director of the Cement Council of Texas.  Key to this durability is a dark igneous trap rock, according to Bill Ciggelakis, P.E., Professional Service Industries, Inc.  He said the stone is slowly cooled lava that is trapped beneath the surface of the earth.  It was likely railed in from Knippa, Tex., located about 75 miles west of San Antonio.   Several area residents remarked that the street is not only valued because of its historic significance, but also because of its low-maintenance longevity, progressing from horse and buggy traffic, to Model-Ts, to modern trucks and buses.

Prusinski and Ciggelakis presented information about the concrete pavement, the construction methods, and the rise of the cement industry in San Antonio and Texas.  San Antonio itself is known as cement’s birthplace West of the Mississippi River, with the second oldest plant in the U.S.  Prusinski said.  Alamo’s original 1880 kiln and quarry still exist as the Japanese Tea Garden, part of San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park. The cement for the Belknap Place concrete came from Alamo’s second plant, built in 1908.  Its smokestacks now serve as the centerpiece of the Quarry Market, an upscale mixed use retail, residential and golf community.

The street was paved in 210 placements of 40 ft by 20 ft. sections, which then were then brushed and hand-scored in 4 in. x 9 in. pattern to create a brick pattern that provided a foothold for the calks (toes or heels) of horseshoes.

Attendees also were treated to entertainment by a barbershop quartet and swing dancers.  Antique vehicles that lined Belknap Place, as well as food trucks and a tour of the 100 year-old neighboring church, were also highlights of the event.  

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