California Asphalt Pavement Association
Vol. 14, Issue 33 || Aug. 16, 2021
This weekly report contains news and information of interest to the asphalt pavement industry, customers and agency partners in California. Please feel free to distribute this newsletter to others who may be interested in asphalt pavements. To provide feedback or story ideas click HERE. Having difficulty viewing this newsletter? View as Webpage
Nationwide polymer shortages severely impacting California emulsion industry
The polymers used to make polymer-modified emulsions (PME) are in short supply and is negatively impacting the industry.

Styrene and butadiene are the two most prevalent materials used to make polymer. As the demand for PME’s reaches its peak in August and September in California, three of the top five butadiene suppliers have declared "force majeure" this month indicating forces beyond their control are leading to shortages.

During the winter, styrene suppliers also declared force majeure following the freeze in Texas that impacted production. Additionally, chlorine (one of the key chemicals for manufacturing cationic PME) has also been in very short supply.
This has created a perfect storm for contractors and suppliers trying to deliver projects and manufacture PME’s heading into the busiest part of the construction season. The other factors contributing to this situation are:
  • Worldwide “off the chart” increases in demand for raw materials.
  • Trucking and rail-car shortages and delays.
  • Ongoing labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This situation has been developing since the winter and does not seem as if it will end this year. Rail deliveries used to take 10-14 days. Today, if you can get a railcar, the timing is sometimes 30 days-plus and there is no trucking to fall back on due to ongoing Covid-19 labor shortages. Any overseas Styrene Butadiene or natural rubber that does make it to the United States is being absorbed quickly by tire manufacturing and other competing industries.
These shortages will not end anytime soon and it is affecting many different industries. It will persist through the rest of the season and possibly into next year until the industry can catch up from these setbacks.  Contractors may have to use Force Majeure if they are unable to get a supply of materials needed to make PME’s. Agencies should consider alternative emulsion products and should work with their contractors to get through this crisis.

Editor's Note: This article was provided exclusively to Asphalt Insider by the Western Regional Association for Pavement Preservation, which is comprised of many CalAPA members.
Federal infrastructure update: Nearly $1 trillion bill passes Senate on bipartisan vote
A $1 trillion infrastructure bill easily cleared the U.S. Senate last week on a bipartisan vote, setting up a Fall showdown in the House of Representatives for final passage of the bill before it heads to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The Aug. 10 vote, on a 69-30 vote in the evenly divided Senate, represented a major milestone on the multi-year effort to secure stable transportation funding to repair the nation's roads and bridges. The bill includes an increase of $110 billion over current road funding levels, with billions destined for California. Both California senators voted in favor of the measure.

In a statement issued exclusively to CalAPA members following the vote, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-CA said: "Poorly maintained roads cost motorists hundreds of dollars a year in fuel economy and car maintenance. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help alleviate these costs and help eliminate time wasted idling in congestion by funding much-needed road repairs across the country. This bill will also create millions of good-paying, union jobs and rebuild our infrastructure to benefit all Californians."

Added U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein:“The bill is the greatest investment in infrastructure I’ve had the privilege of voting for in the Senate. It will allow us to rebuild our infrastructure so that California can compete in the modern economy and attract more jobs."

“California is the fifth-largest economy in the world but our infrastructure has not kept up with our growth," Feinstein said. "This bill changes that and ensures that our state will continue to lead the world in innovation and development.”

In addition to the large infusion in transportation funding, the 2,700-page bill advances several priorities promoted by the asphalt industry. Among them:
  • Re-authorization of the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program to continue advancing the latest innovations, best practices, and technologies for constructing and maintaining high-quality, long-lasting pavements valued at $30 million.
  • Increased federal contributions to safety contingency funds to improve work zone safety, protecting workers and motorists from injury and fatalities during roadway construction projects using innovative contracting methods that enhance work zone safety. Three highway workers have been killed in California in the past month in work zones, underscoring the urgency to address work-zone safety.
  • Absence of pavement type selection mandates, maintaining neutrality on highway pavement materials issues, leaving it to individual state experts to determine the most cost-effective and efficient pavement type for each project.

“This bipartisan bill represents a giant step forward in bringing greater access and mobility to the American public, brings our highways and roads to good condition, sparks ongoing innovation in the asphalt pavement industry, and secures good-paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of American workers, not to mention improves their safety while on the job,” said Audrey Copeland, president and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), a CalAPA partner.

The bill now heads back to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it may be tangled up in a debate between moderate and progressive Democrats on whether to link it to a larger, $3.5 billion "human" infrastructure bill. Action on the bill is not expected until the Fall. A White House fact sheet about the measure and how it will impact California is HERE.

The CalAPA Legislative Committee, in coordination with the NAPA Legislative Committee, continues to monitor the federal infrastructure talks closely, and the association has sent numerous letters, fact sheets and other communications to members of California's Congressional delegation on infrastructure issues. Contributions by state asphalt associations, including CalAPA, to pooled funds help underwrite the national advocacy efforts. Federal infrastructure will be prominently featured at the Fall Asphalt Pavement Conference Oct. 13 in Sacramento, with scheduled speakers from NAPA and the Federal Highway Administration.

For more information on this topic, contact CalAPA at (916) 791-5044. More information about CalAPA's advocacy efforts on behalf of the asphalt pavement industry can be found on the association's website HERE. Last week's Asphalt Insider coverage of the infrastructure bill, with additional details and links to source material, is HERE, and the Aug. 2 issue is HERE.
Chip shortage impacting air-quality devices for California-bound equipment, leading to delays
CalAPA has alerted state air quality regulators of a computer chip shortage that is impacting the manufacture of construction equipment for sale in California that includes specialized emission-reduction software.

CalAPA members who are equipment distributors first reported the disruption earlier this month related to the DEF (Diesel Emissions Fluid) tank supply module manufactured by a Florida-based company, Shaw Development LLC. The device is used by most OEM equipment manufacturers as part of the Tier 4 Final engine installation. The disruption could delay the delivery of diesel-powered construction equipment, including asphalt rollers, that are sold in California.

According to Dana Randall with CalAPA member Nixon-Egli, the critical shortage of the DEF units are due in part to a computer chip shortage that is affecting many industries worldwide. Shaw is currently the only supplier of these units in the United States. New units may not be available until October or possibly December.

When the unit fails, it will send an error code the engine ECM that will in turn cause the engine to de-rate, resulting in a machine down situation. Since it is part of the Emissions System Certification, it cannot be legally bypassed to allow the engine to continue to run.

CalAPA has notified the California Air Resources Board (CARB) of the situation, which they were not aware of, and has been discussing potential mitigations. Any CalAPA members who are experiencing problems due to the DEF equipment shortage are encouraged to contact CalAPA. Jeff Lowry is the CARB point-person on the issue. Section 2423(f) documents the Economic hardship relief provisions available to equipment manufacturers when attempting to comply with CARB regulations. The direct link to the Code of California Regulations pertaining to this issue is HERE.
Industry submits comments on draft Construction General Permit for storm-water runoff
The construction industry continues to engage with state water quality regulators over a draft rewrite of the Construction General Permit for storm-water runoff, which in its current proposed form has generated growing concern among industry.

A coalition letter joined by CalAPA and submitted to the state Water Resources Control Board is HERE. An additional letter with more detailed points authored by the California Alliance for Jobs is HERE. At a virtual public hearing held on Aug. 4, various industry representatives expressed concerns with the draft CGP update, particularly new language to incorporate Numeric Effluent Limits (NEL) reporting and enforcement into the permit.

"The Permit as currently drafted is unworkable and would significantly increase the cost of and jeopardize the completion of thousands of projects throughout the state including state and local transportation infrastructure, school construction, electric and water utility infrastructure, housing projects and more," the Aug. 13 coalition letter states.

"To comply with these strict standards, projects will be required to install costly active treatment systems as well as test water runoff samples to ensure storm-water runoff does not exceed the particular pollutant level for that surface water body," the coalition letter notes. "The NEL approach is unworkable and technically infeasible. The thresholds proposed are so low they cannot be achieved through the use of any existing best management practices (BMPs), triggering immediate permit violations and enforcement."

The SWRCB has indicated its intention to finalize the rule this year. The CalAPA Environmental Committee is closely monitoring the rule-making process and, in partnership with others, is engaging water-quality regulators on behalf of the asphalt pavement industry.

The SWRCB construction storm-water page is HERE.
Tech Term of the Week
Each week we highlight a word, acronym or other term commonly used in the asphalt pavement industry in California.

EARTHWORK: The work consisting of the construction of the roadway, excluding bridges, pavement structure, and selected capping material. 
Paving Pointer of the Week
Each week we highlight a key point or best practice of interest to asphalt paving crews, inspectors and others working in the field. We welcome suggestions. More tips can be found in our Asphalt Parking Lot Construction Checklist HERE.

COMPACTION/DENSITY: The plans and specifications should specify that density is tested. The inspector needs to monitor the specified compaction density with a gauge to ensure that final target densities are achieved. Regular visual inspection of the mat during compaction is also required: look for segregation, indentations, properly sealed joints, and under-compacted areas.  
Quote of the Week
"Know thyself or at least keep renewing the acquaintance."

-- Robert Brault
We hope you enjoy CalAPA's Asphalt Insider newsletter. We are committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information on technical issues, regulation, news, analysis, events and trends in California that is of interest to the asphalt pavement industry and our various agency partners. Click HERE to contact us with any comments or suggestions.


Russell W. Snyder, CAE
Executive Director
California Asphalt Pavement Association (CalAPA)®
The "Asphalt Insider" is an official publication of the California Asphalt Pavement Association. For more information or to inquire about membership, call (916) 791-5044, or click HERE to contact us. Copyright © 2021 California Asphalt Pavement Association -- All Rights Reserved. The CalAPA name (No. 5,621,794) and logo (No. 5,621,795) are registered trademarks with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
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