New York Chapter Leads Meeting with State DOT Officials

The New York State Chapter (ACPA NYS) led a meeting with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner and Executive Staff, the concrete pavement industry and the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CS Hub).*

The Chapter requested the meeting, which was held Friday to raise awareness of concrete pavement’s contributions toward the state’s sustainability goals, as well as to discuss the disparity between concrete and asphalt pavement selection. ACPA participated in the meeting in support of our ConcreteCompetes program, which was developed by 2018 Chairman Chuck Niederriter and is now in its third year.

Following introductions by DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez and other NYSDOT staff, ACPA NYS Chapter Executive Director Bill Cuerdon introduced the industry group and spoke about the I-390 project, which was designed as an unbonded concrete overlay, but flipped to a crack & seat asphalt overlay.

“We had historically taken a bottom-up approach, but that failed,” Bill explained, adding, “We are now coming to top-level staff.”

He then introduced Dr. Jeremy Gregory of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub. Dr. Gregory spoke about infrastructure projects involve decisions that weigh the risks and benefits of performance, economics, and environmental impacts. He discussed how a life-cycle perspective should be used to quantify environmental impacts from beginning of production through the end-of-life phase. He also spoke on intra-industry competition and how it can lower the cost of both asphalt and concretes.

He explained how the use phase of concrete pavements contributes to far greater life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than solely by comparing materials or even examining the construction phase. He cited examples of use-phase benefits, including concrete’s high albedo, which allows for less artificial lighting of pavements. He also spoke about carbonation, where concrete pavements absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and described pavement-vehicle interaction.

Bill then spoke about the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index, which shows historical pricing stability of cement and concrete relative to other construction materials. Adding to Dr. Gregory’s comments, he also described how concrete pavements can re-absorb 20% of the production emissions during its use phase. He also described how the cement industry initiatives to become carbon neutral by 2050, highlighting Heidelberg’s Norway plant that is installing carbon capture systems.

Commissioner Dominguez mentioned this message was “spot on with CLCPA goals in New York,” adding, “there was a good amount of info.”

Additionally, the NYSDOT Deputy Chief Engineer agreed that competition is good, and they would like to do more concrete because “it’s good to have two alternatives,” adding that he likes to have more options.

He discussed that, from a design perspective, concrete pavements make sense. He mentioned the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier concrete pavements that are 40 to 60 years old, noting that durable projects such as these minimize operation costs.

Mr. Cuerdon agreed, and continued that by adding five- to six-inch-thick concrete overlays to these existing roads can preserve them for years to come. He stated that the I-390 project in Region 5 is a perfect candidate for a concrete overlay. Concrete contractors are poised to pave and reopen quickly.

In response to comments about opening to traffic quickly, Bill offered the solution of using the maturity method to estimate the early-age and compressive strength of in-place concrete in real-time.

Leif Wathne noted that competition moves innovation forward and lowers cost. He also noted FHWA’s Everyday Counts initiative places an emphasis on concrete overlays.

Frank Surianello added that slipform pavers in New York State have been sitting idle for the past five years. Concrete paving, cement and ready mixed concrete are New York industries, he said, adding that healthy competition requires healthy industries. The New York State concrete paving industry is not healthy currently, he said.

* Representing the NYS DOT were Commissioner Dominguez and her executive staff.

In addition to Bill Cuerdon, others representing the industry were: Frank Surianello, Surianello General Concrete Contractors, Inc.; Jeff Borden, P.E., Cold Spring Construction Company; Ryan Forrestal, P.E., Cold Spring Construction Company; Dom Izzo, Lancaster Development; Rich Sullivan, Lehigh Hanson; Bob Bates, LafargeHolcim; Ken King, LafargeHolcim; Jerry Voigt, ACPA National; Leif Wathne, ACPA National; Heather Steffek, ACPA NYS. As mentioned, Dr. Jeremy Gregory, represented the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.