By all accounts, the Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association’s (WCPA’s) annual concrete pavement conference last week was a great success. 

“We had 318 registered attendees, our second highest attendance in our history,” says Kevin McMullen, WCPA President, adding that the attendees and presenters represented, “19 major cities and 36 consulting engineering firms.” There were also 35 WisDOT officials, along with an excellent line-up of presenters.

WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson kicked off the meeting, with what Kevin described as a “positive message,” noting that the DOT is working to get the agency’s highway program back up and running after the previous administration halted projects and engineering studies. Kevin says the Secretary commented that the agency both enjoys and encourages the partnership with industry, adding that this partnership includes some proactive participation in training and committee work, including the WisDOT Concrete Pavement Technical Committee. Also present from the DOT was  Barry Paye, WisDOT Materials Management Chief.

Other presenters included Dr. Tyler Ley of Oklahoma State University, who spoke about research on performance-engineered mixtures (PEM) and the Super Air Meter (SAM) in Wisconsin; Leif Wathne, who spoke about ACPA National Initiatives (including inter-industry competition); and a great line-up of professionals representing the FHWA and WisDOT, industry, and academia.

Commenting further on the WCPA conference program, Kevin says, “There was a lot of PEM, as this is a priority with the DOT. In fact we might be the first DOT in the country to use the SAM for payment and acceptance.” Real-time materials testing on the grade is considered a key to successful implementation of PEM, and the SAM is considered by many to both a quick and reliable test that aids in freeze-thaw durability, reduction of air loss, and the increase of strength over time. The SAM is currently used by 37 states and 5 countries, according to the Super Air Meter website.

The workshop also included breakout sessions on construction and design & research, an awards program, an exhibitor’s workshop, and hospitality and social activities.

Photo montage depicts WCPA award recipients, the WCPA crew (and friend), Leif Wathne speaking on competition, and a near record number of attendees.