Clark Addresses Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA)

Biannually, the Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) conducts an international scanning tour. The primary purpose of the tour is to learn about the innovations and practices conducted abroad to assess what can be implemented in Australia. For 2023, the AfPA toured the United States, starting in California and ending in Minnesota. Over two weeks, a group of 10 professionals led by AfPA Executive Director Anna D’Angelo met with the California Department of Transportation, California Asphalt Pavement Association, National Center for Asphalt Technology, Federal Highway Administration, National Asphalt Pavement Association, MnRoad, Federal Aviation Administration and Virginia Asphalt Association. The focus of this trip was sustainability and the quest to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

During the group’s visit to FHWA’s research facility outside of Washington, D.C., VAA President Trenton Clark outlined the joint efforts VAA, VDOT and VTRC are working on to reduce the asphalt paving industry’s carbon footprint and make the Virginia highway transportation network more sustainable. First, Clark shared the efforts to increase the amount of recycled and reused materials in asphalt mixtures. Next, he touched on how balanced mix design will aid in determining how the incorporation of various materials will impact the short- and long-term performance of mixes and pavements. Finally, he directed the group to the work performed by VTRC researchers and the reports already published.

Much of Clark’s presentation was spent answering questions posed by AfPA attendees. The questions covered Warm Mix Asphalt, liquid anti-strip agents, environmental product declarations and green procurement. Clark ended his presentation with a glimpse of “What is on the Horizon.” He discussed embracing innovation in pavement design, mix design and construction acceptance.

Like many industries, the asphalt industry is expanding the use of e-technology, replacing old business and construction practices. Lastly, Clark touched on how Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Product Declarations may affect project selection and funding. While the asphalt industry has been a leader for decades in terms of recycling and sustainability, the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passage is accelerating the quest to a net-zero economy by 2050.