‘Latest News’

2014 Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame Inducts Ralph Rogers

Ralph Rogers laid the groundwork for what is now one of the largest privately owned aggregate companies in the United States. Rogers and his partners were among the first road builders involved in President Dwight Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, supplying stone and building major interstate sections in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. He created and maintained a corporate culture where the “man in the pit” was just as important as the executives or elected officials.  

Ralph Rogers Pit & Quarry

Click on the photo to watch a short 2 minute video on the history of Ralph Rogers and the Rogers Group, Inc.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet launches ‘DataMart’ Web portal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 7, 2014) – Where are Kentucky’s state-maintained bridges? How many electric vehicles are registered in Kentucky? What is Kentucky’s five-year trend in highway crashes? How much was spent last year on highway projects, by county?

Answers to these and countless other questions are a click or two away with a new Web portal – Kentucky Transportation Cabinet DataMart – that for the first time puts a wealth of information about Kentucky’s transportation system at the public’s fingertips.

With the click of a mouse, the KYTC DataMart delivers details of road and bridge projects, traffic counts, highway crash data and organization performance measures – to name but a few.

“We’re excited to launch our Data Mart,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “People want to know about transportation projects in their area, and the Data Mart gives everyone the opportunity to view real-time data.

“The information has always been publicly available, but we have created a single portal through which to access it. We believe this is unprecedented among state transportation agencies in terms of transparency and ease of access,” Secretary Hancock said.
KYTC DataMart, developed by the cabinet’s Office of Information Technology, gives the public direct access to many of the tools used by KYTC engineers.

“Parts of the DataMart are highly specialized, but the portal is evolving and will become progressively easier for public use,” Secretary Hancock said. “We welcome the public’s feedback to help us improve the site.”

The DataMart was designed to be a one-stop shop for customers and consumers of KYTC data. It was built to achieve the following Cabinet objectives:

· Provide a central portal to obtain access to transportation data.
· Automate and display regularly scheduled reporting.
· Provide transparency into and public accountability for the Cabinet’s management and stewardship of public funds.

One of the financial transparency and accountability objectives of the DataMart is to provide reporting as mandated by the federal transportation law known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century). Through a simple scorecard, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the people of the Commonwealth can see how KYTC’s performance compares to FHWA expectation.

The DataMart may be accessed by logging onto http://datamart.business.transportation.ky.gov.

Research Finds Unintended Consequences of Reflective Pavements


Addressing the urban heat island effect (UHI) is a growing concern for many municipalities, but a new report from Arizona State University (ASU), “Unintended Consequences: A Research Synthesis Examining the Use of Reflective Pavements to Mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect,” calls into question many common assumptions about the ability of reflective pavements to mitigate UHI.

Reflective surfaces redirect solar energy and for this reason high-albedo, reflective, or “cool” roofs have been suggested as an important tool for UHI mitigation. However, efforts to apply the same principle to pavements overlook the complexities of urban geography and how ground-level reflections interact with pedestrians, vehicles, and the built environment.

“We cannot assume that reflective pavements will behave the same as reflective roofs. When energy is reflected from a ground surface, it doesn’t return directly to the sky. It reflects back at buildings and pedestrians. Heat concentration in urban areas is a multifaceted problem; it requires a solution that looks at more than just one mitigation strategy,” said Heather Dylla, Ph.D., Director of Sustainable Engineering for the National Asphalt Association (NAPA).

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the ASU National Center for SMART Innovations website at http://ncesmart.asu.edu/docs/smart/unintended-consequences-1013.pdf.


Asphalt Industry has Lower Injury Rates

Results from NAPA’s recent safety benchmarking survey indicate that the asphalt pavement industry has an injury rate lower than the general highway construction industry average. Companies accounting for a third of the total tonnage of NAPA’s membership reported this information on their OSHA safety recordable injury rates.

For the survey, both highway construction activities and plant operational activities for the industry were combined to reflect an overall incidence rate of 2.9 recordable injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This rate is substantially lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics incidence rate estimate of 4.4 injuries per 100 FTEs for general highway construction. The data and further analysis will be discussed at NAPA’s Health & Safety Committee meeting during NAPA’s Annual Meeting.

This type of information can be used to understand trends and eventually develop best practices associated with safer workplaces. All company-specific information remains confidential in the survey, and NAPA greatly appreciates the responses of those companies that participated. A formal report will be prepared and distributed throughout the industry.

Source: http://www.asphaltpavement.org/index.php

Governor Beshear releases plan for extending, four-laning Mountain Parkway

Governor Steve Beshear today released his proposal for accomplishing a project long-awaited by Eastern Kentuckians and given new urgency by shifts in the region’s economy – the widening, modernizing and extension of the Mountain Parkway.

“Eastern Kentucky faces a multitude of challenges, made all the more urgent by the rapidly shifting economy.  Our people demand a thorough strategy that incorporates efforts to improve economic development and infrastructure for this region,” Gov. Beshear said in a news conference at the Capitol. “Four-laning the remainder of the Mountain Parkway and extending it is a critical step in that process.”

To accomplish that, the new Kentucky Highway Plan that Gov. Beshear will recommend to the 2014 General Assembly includes a series of projects, totaling $753.6 million, by which the Mountain Parkway would be widened and thoroughly modernized by 2020.

The Mountain Parkway, built more than 50 years ago, runs west to east for 75.6 miles, from Interstate 64 near Winchester to Salyersville. Like Kentucky’s other seven parkways and the former Kentucky Turnpike, it originally was a toll road.

The westernmost 45.8 miles of the Mountain Parkway, from Winchester to Campton, has long been four lanes. But the remainder, a 29.8-mile section that runs through Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin counties, is two lanes, with an occasional passing lane. The Governor’s plan would make that section – from Campton to Salyersville – a four-lane highway.

It would then extend the Parkway from Salyersville to Prestonsburg by four-laning 16.2 miles of two connecting routes – U.S. 460 and Ky. 114. At Prestonsburg, the new Parkway would connect with four-lane U.S. 23 – creating a modern, four-lane corridor all the way from I-64 near Winchester to Pikeville.

“As its name implies, the Mountain Parkway has been the principal connector between our eastern mountains and Bluegrass region for generations. It’s time Eastern Kentucky was provided the same, basic, four-lane access afforded to other regions of the Commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not only does that provide access for Eastern Kentuckians to reach other parts of our state, but it creates an easier path for tourists and investors to stream into this vibrant region.”

To finance the Mountain Parkway projects, the Recommended Highway Plan proposes to use $595.6 million of conventional state and federal highway funds over the next six years and $158 million from the sale of toll revenue bonds. Although a tolling plan has not yet been devised, it is expected that tolls would be collected on the entire parkway, from Winchester to Prestonsburg.

The authorization to issue the bonds and collect the tolls will not be sought this legislative session – although part of the overall project, they would not be needed until toward the end of the entire project, Gov. Beshear said.

“Setting a concrete schedule to four-lane the Mountain Parkway would be the most far-reaching thing the General Assembly and Governor Beshear could do for Eastern Kentucky this legislative session.   It’s time has come, and I want to thank Governor Beshear not only for his support of this project but also for his dedicated efforts in other areas to help this region prosper,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

The work on the Mountain Parkway being proposed by Gov. Beshear would likely be broken down into four parts for the purposes of contracts:

  • Construction Sequence 1 – Mountain Parkway from KY 205 in Morgan County to Burning Fork Bridge near Salyersville, in Magoffin County.
  • Construction Sequence 2 – U.S. 460 from Burning Fork Bridge at Salyersville, through a congested retail district, to KY 114.
  • Construction Sequence 3 – KY 114 from U.S. 460 at Salyersville to KY 404 at Prestonsburg.
  • Construction Sequence 4 – Westernmost part of the project area: Mountain Parkway from KY 191, Wolfe County, to KY 205, Morgan County.


Governor Beshear’s press releases are available on his official website at www.governor.ky.gov

Contract Award for Interchange in the Interstate 69 Corridor

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today announced award of a contract to reconstruct a major interchange in the Interstate 69 Corridor in Hopkins County.

It is one in a series of improvements to bring portions of three Kentucky parkways up to federal interstate highway standards.

“We’re pleased that this project moves us closer to the objective of completing I-69 from Henderson to Fulton over the next several years,” Gov. Beshear said. “The conversion of our parkways to interstate standards is an important part of our work to attract new jobs and improve commerce in western Kentucky along the I-69 Corridor.”

The project was awarded to the team of Rogers Group Inc. & Qk4 Inc. on a low bid of $29,004,662. The target completion date is May 29, 2015.

The project involves a cloverleaf interchange connecting I-69 with the Breathitt-Pennyrile Parkway, south of Madisonville. It will be modified with a “full flow” connection interchange to accommodate traffic moving at modern highway speeds.

I-69 in Kentucky eventually will run north to south from Henderson to Fulton. But it requires improvements to portions of three Kentucky parkways that originally were toll roads – the Breathitt-Pennyrile, Ford-Western Kentucky and Carroll-Purchase. Some of the parkway interchanges were built with short, tight ramps to accommodate vehicles stopping at toll booths, not merging into 70 mph freeway traffic.

A 55-mile segment of the corridor has been completed, from roughly Nortonville to the I-24 Carroll-Purchase interchange at Calvert City, and now bears the red, white and blue shields of I-69.

“Much work remains in order to fulfill our goal of completing the entire I-69 Corridor from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border,” Gov. Beshear said. “However, this project is a significant step forward and shows our commitment to completing I-69 through Kentucky.”

In October 2011, Gov. Beshear and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez unveiled the first I-69 shield, near Nortonville. Kentucky obtained FHWA approval to convert 38 miles of the former Ford-Western Kentucky Parkway to I-69 as contracts for upgrades were advertised. In addition, 17 miles of I-24, from Eddyville to the Carroll-Purchase Parkway interchange, bears both I-69 and I-24 signage.


Mathis Reappointed NAPA State Director for Kentucky

Mark Mathis

Mark Mathis, President of Mago Construction Company, has been reappointed as the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s State Director for Kentucky. This reappointment is a three-year commitment starting February, 2014. As the state director, Mark will serve on the NAPA Board of Directors and will be the link to NAPA members in Kentucky. He will be involved with national meetings, legislative fly-ins, and regional conferences. Mark is currently serving as a PAIKY Board Member and the Chairman of the Kentucky Asphalt Pavement Alliance (PAIKY’s Marketing Committee). Kentucky will be well represented at the National level.

KYTC Long Range Plan Update – Your Turn Survey Results

In late fall of 2012, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) began the process to update the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan. The updated plan, with a horizon year of 2035, will be an overarching policy guide that establishes the goals, objectives and the strategies to address the core challenges and opportunities facing Kentucky in the next 20 years. When completed, the plan will include a comprehensive inventory, forecast, and analysis of the trends and issues affecting transportation throughout Kentucky and will set the stage for KYTC transportation policies and investment strategies for the coming years.

During the first three months of 2013, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet conducted the “Your Turn” survey to collect citizens’ concerns, issues and comments with the transportation system in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The “Your Turn” survey served as the first public involvement activity in conjunction with the update of the Kentucky Long-Range Transportation Plan. The survey was available through on-line access and also paper copy in both English and Spanish language versions. An awareness campaign was conducted through print, social, and broadcast media, and through community contacts to guarantee a wide response that reflected the demographics of the state.

A total of 16,185 individuals participated in the survey. Responses were received from every county in Kentucky. This was the first campaign of its kind for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet that achieved such widespread participation. The following pages provide a summary of those responses.


The Lane Report ‘Asphalt vs. Concrete’

The Lane Report By Sean Slone

Ask the folks at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Frankfort who decide how to build and rebuild the state’s roads whether there is a rivalry between the concrete and asphalt paving industries, and they will tell you there is. But talk to representatives of those two industries and it becomes clear that the rivalry is based more on ambition than reality in Kentucky.

A road construction crew paves a scenic Kentucky roadway with asphalt. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet invests in hundreds of paving projects each year.

A road construction crew paves a scenic Kentucky roadway with asphalt. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet invests in hundreds of paving projects each year.

“There is somewhat of a rivalry,” said Paul Looney, transportation engineering branch manager in the Pavement Branch of the KYTC Division of Highway Design. “Both industries still push the benefits of their products, and we continue as a cabinet to see the benefits of both industries and both products in Kentucky. …Whether it’s ‘we’re greener or quieter’ or ‘we’re most effective,’ there’s a big marketing push nationally.”

That marketing push has at times taken a combative tone, according to Brian Wood, executive director of thePlantmix Asphalt Industry of Kentucky, which represents the state’s asphalt producers.

“There’s been a lot of marketing and advertising by the concrete industry, and most of it has been negative towards asphalt,” Wood said. “Instead of promoting concrete, they’ve been denigrating asphalt, and that really has not been well received in the asphalt industry. … And then at the local level, the concrete industry made a fairly bold claim that they were here to take 15 percent market share away from the asphalt industry. … I don’t know if you’d call it a rivalry. There are certainly a lot of battles out there. It’s a contentious issue within the community of transportation and paving.”

When it comes to what is actually happening on the state’s roads, Wood’s industry certainly appears to be winning the war, conceded Finley Messick, executive director of the Kentucky Concrete Pavement Association in Frankfort.

“It is hard to call it a rivalry when the asphalt industry has the lion’s share of the (Kentucky) work – approximately 98 percent annually,” he said. “The concrete industry continues to strive for a level playing field with government. There is no rivalry from the concrete industry, just an attempt to get fair treatment in government procurement.

“But honestly I do not believe there is an intended bias here. (KYTC) Secretary (Mike) Hancock and State (Highway) Engineer (and Department of Highways Commissioner) Steve Waddle have been working with our industry, but we still have not managed to increase concrete’s market share,” Messick said. “There are a lot of factors involved – changing perceptions and cultures are just a couple of them.”

Playing field is difficult to level

The dominance of the asphalt industry in road construction sets Kentucky apart from some of its closest neighbors.

This photo from May 2012 shows the concrete deck being poured on a new, replacement span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge on Kentucky Lake. The original span was knocked out by a cargo vessel in January 2012.

“If you go to a state like Missouri, their industries are more balanced,” Looney said. “They’re more like 50-50.”

“There is more balance in almost every nearby state,” Messick agreed. “Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia and Illinois have a much healthier two-pavement competition.”

Looney said the KYTC has been working the past six years toward creating a more level playing field for the two industries in Kentucky. That includes making greater use of alternate pavement bidding, in which the state solicits two equivalent pavement designs to try to determine the best value option.

“We probably averaged a dozen (alternate bid) projects a year in the last four years,” Looney said. “That’s how several states have handled trying to give everybody an equal opportunity.

“When there’s no overriding engineering factor on a project, when you look at it and the costs are similar, when there’s no overriding need to have one type (of pavement) because of weak soils or extremely heavy traffic, or I need to get in and out really quick, when there’s no other engineering factor, we have gone to bidding alternate pavement.”

Looney said the use of the procedure has increased competition and lowered bid prices. But the competition has mostly been among asphalt contractors in the state, in the concrete industry’s view.

“All alternate bids have gone to asphalt, some by very narrow margins,” Messick said. “The intent of this particular administration to do some alternate bidding was well intentioned but has not increased competition in any significant way. Only a small portion of total road contracting by (KYTC) was alternate bidding in the last two years, and this year only two or three projects were alternate bids.”

Concrete paving companies say preparing alternate bids is a costly process.

The underlying problem for the concrete industry, however, may be that it’s not on equal footing in terms of its statewide presence or how its product is perceived and utilized.

“What’s interesting to note is that there is a large percentage of projects that have been advertised by the (Department of Highways) as alternate bid that have not even received a concrete bidder,” Wood said. “There (are) only a handful of contractors on the concrete side, whereas there’s probably almost 30 asphalt paving contractors that have plants in almost every county.”

No one likes artificial levelers either

In addition to the disparity in the size of the two industries though, there are other differences that make them unequal or at least dissimilar.

“You’re comparing apples and oranges,” Wood said. “The two products are not the same. They don’t behave the same. They don’t require the same types of maintenance activities. They don’t have the same construction schedules. So it’s a challenge to try to come up with a system that’s perfectly fair for both industries.”

Asphalt is laid down in layers and then compacted by a Kentucky road paving crew. The asphalt industry touts its product as versatile and built to last.

Asphalt is laid down in layers and then compacted by a Kentucky road paving crew. The asphalt industry touts its product as versatile and built to last.

For one thing, the way the two products are measured and paid for is substantially different. Asphalt paving is applied in multiple long layers or lifts that are compacted by heavy rollers; concrete pavement techniques vary from more common pouring in slabs to laying precast segments and can include multiple layers. Concrete generally has higher load bearing capability and longer durability.

“Asphalt is paid for by KYTC on a per-ton basis. Concrete is paid for on a square-foot basis,” Messick said. “On large projects, using a weight measurement is not the same as using an area measurement for payment. Variations in weight and thickness can allow higher payments compared to an area-measured payment.”

But Wood called the contention that the difference might give anyone an unfair advantage “overrated.”

“We don’t build (an asphalt pavement) a square yard at a time,” he said. “We had one project where the cabinet made both products per square yard and paid per square yard, and had a very difficult time figuring out how to pay us because we lay a ‘lift’ at a time and we build it up over time, which is a benefit of asphalt. We can do staged construction. We can put traffic on it. We can do it at night. We don’t have to shut the whole road down and build it and wait for it to cure out and then put traffic on it.”

Messick countered that asphalt isn’t always faster for road construction and that speed of construction is a project-by-project consideration.

“The state is doing some small intersection work now with 24-hour (concrete) mixes,” he noted. Moreover, he contends, speed shouldn’t always be the primary consideration. When heavy trucks are allowed to roll over thin, incomplete asphalt intermediate layers, those layers are stressed, perhaps unnecessarily, he argued.

Both Wood and Messick said they have at times taken issue with KYTC practices that have attempted to account for factors that are beyond the control of one industry or to artificially level the playing field with indexes, penalties or double standards. Asphalt contractors, Wood said, don’t like the practice of bid adjustment that puts a penalty on the asphalt bidder. Those contractors, he contends, are also held to a higher standard than their concrete industry counterparts when it comes to pavement smoothness and ride quality.

Messick doesn’t like the use of indexes or escalators that allow the asphalt industry to get around issues surrounding the volatility in the price of their product. Asphalt, a liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum, has seen price spikes as the price of oil has fluctuated in recent years. When used in the alternate bid process, escalators allow the asphalt contractor to enter a low bid to win a project but the state could end up paying much more for asphalt materials at the time of construction if the price of oil increases substantially in the interim, the concrete industry contends.

An example of a new concrete intersection, this one on a new bypass project in Flemingsburg. It’s part of an overall project and not related to any pavement issues at the intersection per se, but it is now the best practice to use concrete at signalized intersections to prevent rutting and “washboarding” that occurs when heavy vehicles stop or sit for prolonged periods.

The Federal Highway Administration has advised, Messick points out, that “the use of commodity price adjustments for material prices is not desirable for alternate bidding contracts” and that while Kentucky continues the practice, Indiana does not. But Wood believes such practices are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the asphalt industry.

“Otherwise you’re putting the burden on the pavement contractor to guess at the cost of oil and gas … in the future,” he said. “If they guess wrong, they probably won’t be here to think about it or to do the work. … At least this way we’re paying the actual market cost and it may be less (when construction begins) than it is today and they may save money on the job.”

Messick has some ideas for what he believes might constitute fairer treatment for the concrete industry in government procurement. They include the state committing to doing a number of concrete-only projects every year, something Wood says sounds like a subsidy that “just doesn’t fit with free enterprise.” But Messick points out there are many asphalt-only projects and many single-bid asphalt projects every year. Messick believes concrete should be considered even in places where asphalt has previously been the material of choice.

Asphalt over concrete, literally

“Surely concrete deserves to be utilized for road projects more than 2 percent of the time,” he argued. “For example, if the state would consider concrete overlays of existing asphalt roads, the taxpayers of the commonwealth would benefit from an economical, long-lasting, low-maintenance pavement. … Almost uniquely in Kentucky, the vast majority of concrete pavements built in the ’60s and ’70s of concrete have been overlaid with asphalt. Once that is done, rarely is a concrete overlay considered. … In Missouri, there is a lot of concrete overlay on asphalt work.”

Messick also contends the KYTC needs a pavement selection process that is more balanced and transparent and that more actively takes into account lifecycle costs, maintenance costs and environmental factors such as heat reflectivity of the pavement surface.

But Wood argues the KYTC is already doing many of the things Messick suggests and that others aren’t required.

“They have a pavement-type selection process,” he said. “It’s spelled out in a document that’s on their website. … It looks at future maintenance costs. It looks at initial costs. It doesn’t take into account any environmental variables, but those are things that are not really quantifiable and those are not things that are really recommended by the (Federal Highway Administration).”

For his part, Messick doesn’t really expect things to change anytime soon. When it comes to state road paving projects, he calls the future outlook for the concrete industry “dismal.”

“Without a true commitment by … legislators and government officials for a healthy, competitive, two-pavement system, concrete pavement will continue to be an afterthought,” he said. “A healthy, two-pavement system in other states has been shown to actually help overall state road funding in the long run, which could help both industries.”

But Wood believes even with limited competition from the concrete industry, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Kentucky taxpayers are still getting a good deal most of the time.

“Anytime (the KYTC does) a project, they have a secret engineer’s estimate,” he said. “So they establish what is, in fact, a fair price and if a bid comes in in excess of that amount, then they reject it. The (Department of Highways) has the ultimate veto power as far as pricing for any product, any industry, any project. In urban areas, there’s tons of competition even within the (asphalt) industry. Raw materials costs go up and somehow bid prices come down. You can’t even hardly explain it. Maybe people aren’t making money at it. But I think the taxpayers get a value and I think that the (Department of Highways) and (the engineer’s) estimate is that check valve that ensures that they’re always getting a fair price.”

Sean Slone is the Program Manager for Transportation Policy at The Council of State Governments in Lexington.

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KY 56/KY 81 Roundabout Opens in Owensboro

OWENSBORO, Ky. (10/30/13) – A new roundabout at the intersection of KY 56 and KY 81 in Owensboro is expected to be ready for traffic on Friday morning, Nov. 1. Some finish work will continue at the site in coming weeks, according to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn.  “As a traffic control feature, this roundabout will improve safety and efficiency at this intersection,” McClearn said. “We’re placing message boards along the roundabout approaches to alert motorists to the coming switchover so everyone can be prepared.”

Roundabouts provide improved intersection safety with only eight traffic conflict points compared to 32 for a normal signalized intersection. Collisions in roundabouts tend to be side glancing hits instead of t-bone crashes associated with traditional intersections that are more likely to cause serious injuries. Based on previous traffic counts, more than 13,000 vehicles are expected to travel through the roundabout in an average day. McClearn said the roundabout will be a great improvement over the old trumpet intersection it replaces.

“We encourage everyone who will be traveling through the roundabout to take time to become familiar with how this new traffic feature will operate,” McClearn said. “It functions on the basic principle that traffic entering the roundabout yields to vehicles that are in the roundabout.”

A brief tutorial on tips for driving through a roundabout can be found by Clicking Here.

As work continues to finish out permanent connections to the existing roadway, vehicles traveling into the roundabout will face several traffic shifts during the next month. The new roundabout is located at KY 56 mile point 14.1 and KY 81 mile point 11.036 in Daviess County. Yager Materials is the prime contractor on the $1.4 million project. Completion is expected in early December.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Keith Todd, KYTC


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