At the recent 54th Annual National Asphalt Pavement Association Meeting, there was much discussion regarding the current uncertainty of the U.S. economy in general and the roadbuilding industry in particular. The volatility of liquid asphalt cement has certainly put the squeeze on asphalt producers/contractors and their road agency customers over the past several years. And the inability of individual states to meet their financial commitments only compounded the problem through the postponement or cancellation of scheduled road projects.
Even with the recent decline in crude oil prices, the industry is not being lulled into a false sense that lower AC pricing is here to stay. Consequently, NAPA is taking an aggressive role in meeting those challenges by forging a strategic plan that promotes the sustainability benefits of asphalt, and why asphalt provides the optimum life-cycle cost advantage for the construction and maintenance of this nation's surface infrastructure.
During the annual meeting in San Diego, NAPA leadership presented the association's six core strategies to support market share, gain new markets and increase competitiveness. The strategies:
- Expand the use of thin asphalt for preventive maintenance by demonstrating to road agency customers why thin asphalt overlays are a viable pavement preservation treatment.
- Accelerate the adoption of warm-mix asphalt (WMA) by continuing to promote the benefits of WMA to gain road agency acceptance to the point that within five years a majority of the U.S. tonnage produced and placed would be warm mix.
- Increase the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) by developing information and data that removes barriers restricting RAP usage in order to double the amount of RAP used in asphalt mixtures within five years.
- Position asphalt as the most economical choice in life-cycle cost by proving and communicating the long-term economic superiority of asphalt pavements to aid in marketplace acceptance; and to do so in a way that ties the life-cycle cost of RAP, rubblization, perpetual pavements, etc. to sustainability.
- Expand the adoption of perpetual pavements by conducting life-cycle cost analyses to establish the economic and sustainability advantages of perpetual pavements in order to establish perpetual pavements as the design standard for all asphalt pavements.
- Promote the sustainable aspects of asphalt to increase market share by continuing to communicate the environmental advantages of recycling, WMA technology, porous pavements and other asphalt best practices in order to validate why asphalt is a more sustainable solution.
With these core strategies, NAPA is confident the asphalt industry will reach its goals by deploying cost-effective solutions to improve pavement performance, benefit the environment and meet the needs of the road user. The strategies will also go a long way to maximize the investment taxpayers will support through the recently-enacted economic stimulus bill and the upcoming reauthorization of the highway bill this fall.
Greg Udelhofen, Editor