A meeting last week between the ACPA New York State Chapter and the New York State DOT’s Region 4 gave the stakeholders an opportunity to share perspectives about an upcoming project on I-390. The meeting went beyond project specifics as it drew attention to the larger issues of process, competition, and value.

Seven NY State DOT officials met with Bill Cuerdon and Heather Steffek of the NY State Chapter, along with several ACPA members and Leif Wathne, representing ACPA National.  ACPA members participating in the meeting included Frank Surianello, P.E., Surianello General Concrete Contractors, Inc.; Jeff Borden, P.E., Cold Spring Construction Company; Ryan Forrestel, Cold Spring Construction; Ken King, LafargeHolcim; Mike Alfieri, Lehigh Hanson; and Jeff Jones, CRH Americas.

The concrete pavement industry reps asked the DOT officials to revisit pavement selection on the I-390 project from exits 8 through 12, which was slated for cracking & seating, followed by an asphalt overlay.

“We were concerned they were not getting good prices on either treatment since asphalt prices were very high and there was no competition,” Bill says.

Although much of the meeting focused on specific details related to both initial and life-cycle costs and determination of those costs, the larger issues were “the need for having healthy industries to create better competition and lower prices, as well as current OMB guidance to determine discount rates,” Leif says. Bill referenced MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub research regarding the value of a diverse pavement portfolio to ensure the best investment of public funds.

Following a suggestion by Frank Surianello, there was agreement that the concrete pavement industry should have “a seat at the table” when the DOT is evaluating pavement type selection.

There were also other ideas presented, including the possible use of reinforced unbonded concrete overlays, use of a design/build, focus on Performance Engineered Mixtures (PEM), and other ideas aimed at increasing the quality and speed of construction.

Noting the serious constraints many DOTs are facing, Leif suggested reviewing and revisiting pavement-type selection from a programmatic view, rather than by a project-by-project basis to better ensure that both paving industries are participating in the agency’s paving program so that the cost savings realized from inter-industry competition actually materialize, in turn allowing agencies to achieve greater return on investment in their paving program.