Preventing Tarmageddon

Preventing Tarmageddon was New Zealand’s first full-day road surfacing and pavement workshop in the five years since the last Auckland Asphalt Forum event.

After almost two decades (the first was in 2000), the old Auckland asphalt forums went into a hiatus five years ago until the CCNZ’s technical group decided to revitalise the event.

“The National Surfacings Technical Group, National Pavements Technical Group and Civil Contractors New Zealand formed an organising committee to get the workshop back up and running,” says Stacy Goldsworthy, the technical manager at CCNZ.

“The workshop was based on the same proven format as previous ones, a large group of devotees to the ‘black stuff’ discussing ‘how do we do it better?’”

Called ‘Preventing Tarmageddon’ (avoiding a national crisis of aging roading networks impacted by increasing wear and tear from increasing traffic loads), the one-day forum held at Villa Maria near Auckland’s airport proved to be a very successful day with a wide variety of presentations on all things pavement.

“The final number of delegates was 120, with a good range of contractors, clients and consultants in attendance to hear about the troubles of our times and plan to prevent Tarmageddon,” says Stacy who MC’d the forum along with Michael Haydon who is from WSP Opus and a veteran of the previous asphalt engineering forums.

“Previously, we used to get together and figure out how we could improve specifications and things like that,” says Michael.

“We originally set the group up as a means to disseminate information to the wider industry community that some of us gathered as industry leaders on the right committee at the right time.

“It has been really good to see it improve and be continued.”

Discussion topics ranged from new innovations and ensuring knowledge is transferred to the next generation of bitumen specialists to bitumen coating thickness and road surface noise measurement.

In the November issue we publish (page 48) a précis of Clare Dring’s presentation called The Thin Black Line based on the new edition of NZTA M/10 (2019), which proposes to increase the minimum thickness of pavement. As the materials specialist at Fulton Hogan, Clare discussed whether we are getting the correct asphalt thickness and compaction on our highways, critical to quality and longevity.

Stacy Goldsworthy says the event ‘hit the mark’ with shared views and a successful debate.

“It was a different kind of event to what people would normally be exposed to. The content was wide-ranging, but focused on working with the black stuff.

“Having a focused workshop helps engage the audience. It is what they are passionate about. This made for a successful event.”

Among the event’s other 16 speakers was Auckland Transport Principal Asset Engineer Angela Parsonage, who won the event’s Young Presenter Award for presentations on future-proofing the knowledge held by bitumen specialists, and also the perils of ‘imposter syndrome’ – the situation of being qualified and knowledgeable, but being made to feel like an imposter because of factors like ethnicity and gender.

Parsonage said she had been raised to be an engineer by her father and grandfather, who were also engineers.

When it came to education and starting her career, she kept coming up against people who questioned whether engineering was the right career for her because of who she was rather than her ability or the knowledge she had.

Angela says this was a challenge the industry needed to overcome through mentoring, sponsorship and greater understanding of the challenges people face in finding success and satisfaction in their roles.

Higgins Group Technical manager Daniel Ludemann spoke about what he had learned from travelling the world and seeing countries with ‘circular economies’ to design out waste and create ways to re-use landfill materials for other purposes in roading and construction – such as creating systems to produce asphalt from tyres or other plastic waste.

Other speakers included David Alexander of Road Science, who explored the mysteries of whether it is better to apply two coats of bitumen.

Stacy says that after the success of this year’s event, the organising committee has put the wheels in motion for another event next year, returning it to an annual event as it was in the past.

He also thanked this year’s major sponsors, which included Wirtgen Group, Z Energy and Winstone Aggregates, Geotechnics and Hiway Group, which each sponsored session streams, and those involved in organising the event.




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