Talking Asphalt: We begin — February 2011

Talking Asphalt: We begin -- February 2011By Dwight Walker

Hi, I’m Dwight Walker. You may have read some of my articles as a contributing editor for the print edition of Asphalt magazine. I have been asked to begin a monthly column/blog on what’s on my mind about asphalt.

Let me tell you a little about myself. My background is as an asphalt materials engineer. I worked 20-something years for the Kentucky Department of Highways (KYDOH)—almost all of that time as an asphalt engineer. I did a lot of training in quality control and acceptance testing and inspection. I spent considerable time troubleshooting and evaluating active paving projects and recommending treatments for future work. I helped develop test procedures and acceptance programs and helped write specifications for improving asphalt pavement performance.

I took early retirement from KYDOH and went to work for the Asphalt Institute. At AI, I worked at the lab and in the marketing division. I eventually became the editor of Asphalt magazine. I retired again and now work sporadically as a contributing editor for AI’s print and web magazines. I also do some freelance consulting, if a job interests me.

I agreed to start doing these columns because I believe there is a need to share information. The information which I share in future columns may be technical or it may be to beat a drum to bring attention to an area of concern.

Some of the topics I’ve been thinking about and may write about in future columns include:

  • Improving commercial and residential pavements
  • Process control testing
  • Managing materials
  • Construction details
  • Pavement preservation and maintenance
  • Better performing asphalt intersections.

This column can be an opportunity to hear from you. I would like to know what’s on your mind regarding our asphalt world. What do you think we need to do better? What are we doing well? What’s new out there?

Contact me at to share your thoughts. I can’t do anything about our economy to get us all back to work, but maybe we can trade ideas and make some improvements along the way.

Now’s a good time to get ready for the upcoming season. Training is being offered all over the country. It’s the time to maintain your certifications or to learn about new technology. One of the new tools is the Bailey Method of analyzing aggregates for VMA and compactability properties. It can be a very helpful tool to predict how aggregate combinations will pack together. Many organizations, including the Asphalt Institute are offering training sessions now. Additional information on AI training is available at

It is also a good time to prepare the lab and plant for the upcoming season. Restock supplies, service or upgrade the equipment, clean out the accumulated junk, etc. Get your mix designs completed and approved for the upcoming work. Arrange for all materials to do the work. For most of us, paving time will be here soon.

Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2011.

Contact: Dwight Walker