On October 13, VAA hosted the 5th annual Discussion with the Department meeting at the Richmond Marriott Downtown. Attended by senior leaders from both VDOT and VAA, this was the first meeting of its kind since October 2020. VAA members were joined by Commissioner Stephen Brich, Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary, Chief Engineer Bart Thrasher and Chief of Maintenance and Operations Kevin Gregg, several Division Administrators from Central Office and District Leadership. In addition, FHWA Division Administrator Thomas Nelson attended and presented the status of federal legislation and initiatives.
David Horton – 2022 VAA Chairman welcomed the group of 60 in-person attendees and those attending through VAA’s virtual broadcast of the meeting. He said he was excited to have an in-person meeting with the asphalt industry’s largest single customer. In addition, Horton said, “These meetings allow industry and VDOT to work together to deliver the paving program.” Trenton Clark – VAA President, echoed Horton’s sentiments and said, “It is so good to see everyone in three dimensions and not just two!”
Following the opening comments, a series of presentations were delivered, each followed by time for questions. Following the FHWA update, Commissioner Brich discussed the overall VDOT program and future funding outlook. Chief Deputy Commissioner Cary outlined the new Office of Transportation Sustainability. Following a brief break, Clark gave an overview of the paving season on behalf of industry and pointed out opportunities for the future. Chief of Maintenance and Operations Gregg gave an overview of the 2021 paving program and plans for 2022, including dollars amounts and quantities for each district. During a working lunch, Chief Engineer Thrasher covered the current paving program and completion of work.
The afternoon presentations were provided by State Construction Engineer Kerry Bates and Clark. They covered the topics of SWaM, DBE, Davis-Bacon Wage Rates and Fringe Benefits and E-Construction Initiatives. In addition, Clark announced the agreement with Headlight to complete Smart Forms for VAA members to collect/report density and tack coat data electronically.
The day’s final talk was given by Mr. Randy Stamper – Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development with the Virginia Community College System. Stamper discussed the newly formed Infrastructure Training Academy. The academy will be funded through the state budget and from grants secured from the Lumina Foundation in Ohio. The team working on the academy comprises professionals from VCCS under Stamper’s leadership, Dominion Energy, Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance, Heavy Construction Contractors Association, Old Dominion Highway Contractors Association and Virginia Asphalt Association. Stamper stressed the urgency of this effort and asked those in the room to aid in developing the workforce needed to support Virginia’s infrastructure construction and maintenance industry.
For those wishing to obtain a copy of the presentations from this meeting, visit the VAA website under News/Events Past Presentations.