Quality Education

K. Barnett & Sons Inc. benefits from a strong state system, wins asphalt's top award

Asphalt Article April 16, 2003
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If you're an asphalt paving family looking to relocate, try
the state of New Mexico. It has perhaps one of the best school systems in the
country.

K. Barnett & Sons Inc. is a prized product of the
state's paving education, and its roots run deep. Fifty-three years ago, K.
Barnett Sr. started his own road building business in Clovis, N.M. Brother Bill
Barnett, son K. Barnett Jr., grandson Ken and great-grandson Jereme have kept
the name on the front door--and probably have a library full of lessons
learned.

Teaching has been a priority for those involved in New
Mexico paving. Not long ago, officials decided it would be a good idea to start
a Technician Training and Certification Program in Albuquerque. There, members
of the private and public sectors share the same book, the same instructor and
the same classroom--all in an effort to strengthen their knowledge on the
subject of asphalt.

In January, K. Barnett & Sons and the New Mexico State
Highway Department were named to an elite honor roll. The National Asphalt
Pavement Association recognized work done on a five-mile stretch of I-25 with
the 2002 Sheldon G. Hayes Award.

"I didn't realize the impact of (the award) when we
were first notified," Ken Barnett, president of K. Barnett & Sons
Inc., told ROADS & BRIDGES. "Then we started receiving comments from
the competition about how prestigious of an award it is. It really made us feel
like we received an honor."

The Hayes Award winner is determined through a two-year
process. Highway pavement projects using more than 50,000 tons of hot-mix
asphalt are eligible for consideration. Initially, they must win a Quality in
Construction Award, which is determined by numerical scores given by pavement
engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology on the basis of how
well the contractor met the specifications and achieved density on the finished
pavement. All the pavements that meet a benchmark figure are given the QIC
Award.

The year after a project wins a QIC honor it may be
considered for the Hayes. The top ranked projects from each year are tested for
smoothness, then visually inspected by an independent pavement consultant.

K. Barnett & Sons went beyond the required rhetoric,
using constructive innovation in a state that has really kept future road
development in check.

"This is not a high activity area as far as
construction goes," remarked Barnett.

A tighter feel

Rehabilitation work has helped the odds of roads lasting
longer in New Mexico, and the State Highway Department believes it has quality
assurance/quality control (QA/QC) specifications that are ahead of the times.

There was a period when officials were content in following
the Federal Highway Administration specs, which were very general in nature.
But about 10 years ago Frank Guzman and his co-workers in District 1 began
adjusting the specification.

"We took the FHWA model and put it out there in the
field," the District 1 technical support engineer told Roads &
Bridges. "We only had a few pay characteristics as it related to hot
mix."

According to Guzman, percentages of asphalt, lime and
density formed the composite pay factor (incentives/disincentives) for every job.
In the years following the pilot project, more pay characteristics have been
added and the specification band width has been tightened. Contractors are now
offered an upper spec limit and a lower spec limit which they can use to
produce the mix.

"You essentially give him a tighter band where he can
achieve 100% payment to put out a good product," said Guzman. "We
have found if we give realistic target values the end result is a quality
mix."

The process also has produced confidence. The highway
department used to handle a lot of the hot-mix designs, but these days it's up
to the contractor.

"We thought we really needed to move that level of
effort over to the contracting side to allow the contractor process
control," said Guzman.

The middle of New Mexico

I-25 has been around a long time. The District 1 portion of
the route covers about 174 miles of rural habitat. Work has been touch-and-go
on the four laner. The highway department opted to rehab in sections, with the
golden 5-mile portion executed by K. Barnett & Sons--located in central New
Mexico north of Las Cruces--serving as one of the closing jobs. Rutting and
severe alligator cracking were starting to eat away at the asphalt and,
according to Barnett, hydroplaning was an ongoing problem. There also were some
deficiencies in the shoulders.

"This stretch had significant deterioration on the
surface," he said. "This was certainly one of the worst sections
remaining (on I-25)."

"There was some cracking, which is the typical type of
distress that you see out in this part of the state. Rideability was rough and
we saw it as a need to rehab it," added Guzman.

The paving portion of this job was originally part of a
bigger job which consisted of some bridge reconstruction. After some
discussion, the highway department decided it did not want the complicated span
work to slow the hot-mix process, so broke it down to two phases.

"We switched the funding so we were able to do the
Hayes Award portion first," said Guzman.

I-25, however, had its share of sticking points. The fact it
was in rural country could have been a costly inconvenience. New Mexico prefers
to crush its own aggregate, and luckily K. Barnett & Sons owned a pit about
five miles from the jobsite.

With pit location set, K. Barnett & Sons moved in with
its CMI PR 8007-12 milling machine (Circle 952) and chewed 50 mm of pavement.
Here's where the crew turned clever. A 40-ft ski was attached to the milling
machine to enhance the grade average system.

"This enhanced the smoothness," said Barnett.
"With the mill ordinarily you just take spot readings and match whatever
it's running adjacent to. When you run on the ski it averages the bump out so
you don't get the changes in the grade." Skis also were used during the
in-situ cold recycling and asphalt paving stages.

The milled material was then used to serve as a sub-base for
the troubled shoulders. A Caterpillar 14G (Circle 953) motor grader cut the
shoulder subgrade prior to the material coming in. Once the aggregate was in
place, a Caterpillar 140H (Circle 954) motor grader provided a smooth finish,
and the shoulders were topped with an 80- mm Superpave surfacing taper. Two
rollers were used for compaction--a Dynapac CP27 pneumatic roller (Circle 955)
and a Dynapac CA251D steel-wheeled roller (Circle 956).

While shoulder work was being done, Brown & Brown,
Salina, Kan., executed 102 mm of in-situ cold recycling. This process, covering
15,000 sq yd a day, allowed the contractor to reuse material for the
reconstruction of the existing road surface. After adding 1% emulsion and
hydrate lime (pulverized limestone) to the blend, a Cedarapids MS-1 windrow
elevator (Circle 957) picked up the material and transferred it to a Blaw-Knox
PF 180 (Circle 958) asphalt paver, which laid the asphalt down at 320°F.
Two Dynapac CP27 pneumatic rollers followed the Blaw-Knox, and the final piece
in the equipment train was a Dynapac CC421 vibratory roller (Circle 959)
operating at 2,800 vpm.

The pit came into play as K. Barnett & Sons worked to
meet specifications for two 11/2-in. lifts of Superpave (SP-4). Four types of
aggregate were produced--coarse aggregates 3/4 to 1 in. in size; intermediate
aggregates 1/2 to 3/4 in. in size; fine aggregates 3/8 to 1/2 in. in size; and
No. 2 fine aggregates less than 3/8 in. in size. Added to the mix was PG 70-16
asphalt cement (5.7%), serving as the binder and hydrate lime (1.5%), which
resulted in 4% air voids. The volume of mineral aggregate was 14.8%.

A Cedarapids 8828 parallel-flow asphalt drum plant (Circle
960), located in the pit, did the mixing and filled Mack trucks equipped with
CMI belly dumps. Asphalt was produced at 375 tons an hour.

Waiting at the jobsite was a Caterpillar AP 1050 (Circle
961) asphalt paver with an attached Cedarapids MS-1 windrow elevator. Handling
the compaction was two Dynapac CC421 vibratory rollers, a Dynapac CC501 (Circle
962) vibratory roller and a Dynapac CP27 pneumatic roller. K. Barnett &
Sons again chose to compact at 2,800 vpm.

Crews capped the rehabbed road with a 5/8-in. open-graded
friction course. This mix was made up of 100% aggregate past 12 mm and 7.2%
polymerized asphalt cement 20 (PAC-20). The same paver and windrow elevator
used for the Superpave portion of the job were put to work here, and two Dynapac
CC421s operating in the static mode followed.

For testing, K. Barnett & Sons brought in a portable lab
with three certified technicians. They used gyratory compactors to test for
density, which was 96%. During hot-mix production theoretical densities were
taken and core samples pulled every 1,200 tons. A profilograph checked for
smoothness. The New Mexico State Highway Department awarded a maximum bonus of
5%, and this road received 4.4%.

Working in a group

K. Barnett & Sons and the New Mexico State Highway
Department formed a strong axle at the start of the I-25 job. The two sides
conducted daily meetings, discussing project coordination, traffic safety and
any construction problems. More formal meetings were held every month.

"From the onset District 1 personnel were really
oriented towards partnering and working with us, and there was always an
exceptional relationship for addressing issues on the project and coming up
with solutions," said Barnett. "We have worked with these people
before, so we had a good rapport established. They have always been pro-problem
solving."

And with one Hayes Award now in the bag, Guzman believes
there will be a few more award-winning gatherings at future NAPA conventions.

"I was just talking with our maintenance engineer and
he asked if this was the first of many Hayes Awards. Without sounding overly
confident I certainly feel with our hot-mix program, especially our QA/QC
specs, that we would be recipients of more Sheldon G. Hayes Awards. This is
just typical construction for us," he added.

Hayes finalists

The National Asphalt Pavement Association also named three
finalists in the 2002 NAPA Sheldon G. Hayes Award competition: Venture Corp.,
Great Bend, Kan., claimed one while Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc., Manton
and Prudenville, Mich., earned a pair.

Venture received recognition for a two-year project which
dealt with the reconstruction of 16 miles on Highway 156 in Barton County, Kan.
A bridge span midway in the project required Venture to use two plants and two
crew teams during the first year.

Because of the complex nature of the job, the Kansas
Department of Transportation held weekly partnering meetings with Venture and
the 15 other contractors working on the job.

Venture used two 30-ft traveling string-line wheels on the
project to achieve maximum smoothness and create the best ride for the
traveling public. The contractor's employees also tried to run the HMA laydown
machine continuously except when they were tying into the bridge.

"We had no deviations or corrective actions
anywhere," said Kip Spray, owner of Venture. "We achieved 93% of the
maximum smoothness award for the job.

"We have a lot of good jobs out there. This just
happened to be one of those that turned out real well."

Rieth-Riley's Prudenville, Mich., branch was a Hayes
finalist for a proj-ect that involved the reconstruction of a 4.47-mile stretch
of I-75 near Roscommon, Mich., a route heavily traveled by people heading to
tourist destinations in the northern part of the state. Under the terms of the
contract, Rieth-Riley had to keep certain lanes open to traffic three days a
week or face penalties for lane closures.

The company did everything it could to move the job as
quickly as possible, including running several operations concurrently. Rieth-Riley
completed the project ahead of schedule while achieving a ride quality index of
13.3. The company received 91.3% of the total possible for quality
assurance/density/ride bonuses.

"I've been doing this work for 28 years and I've never
had a job that clicked like this," said Tim O'Rourke, area manager for
Rieth-Riley. "Everything had to go right, and it did. We had four months
of winter before this project started to prepare ourselves, and we built the
job in our heads a dozen times during that time. When it came to actually
making it happen we were well prepared."

Over in Cadillac, Mich., Rieth-Riley's Manton outfit
achieved success on 5 miles of a limited-access bypass.

Crews paved the 38-ft-wide roadway in three passes,
including echelon paving to eliminate joints between the mainline and outside
shoulders. For the base coat, the company laid 2.5 in. of HMA followed by a
leveling course of 1.75 in. and a 1.25-in. surface course.

During the construction process, the company performed several
tests to evaluate pavement densities and overall performance. They used a
material transfer device on the surface paving, which helped them achieve a
ride quality index of 14.34.

Despite last-minute changes, the project was completed ahead
of schedule. The community used portions of the road for recreational
activities before it officially opened and celebrated its opening with a walk
that raised money for a local greenway (pedestrian/bicycling path).

"We are proud of this distinction because it recognizes
what we have accomplished as an employee-owned company," said Lonnie
Schaub, area manager of Rieth-Riley's Manton and Traverse City divisions.

About the author: 
Bill Wilson is editor of Roads & Bridges.
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