The Best Get Better
If you are lucky enough in your professional life, every now and then you will come across former colleagues and bosses that remind you how much you owe them for what they have done for you and really how much more you have left yet to do to achieve similar levels of success. I recently had such an occasion as I listened to Senator Orrin Hatch discuss the passage of the FAST Act and its ramifications for Utah’s infrastructure moving forward. Senator Hatch was my first boss out of college, and I remember well many of the discussions we had then about Utah’s roads and highways as we drove around much of the state together. Little did I know then that my start as a staff assistant would, within a few short years, lead to a chance to help Utah’s roads and highways become even better through the work of the Utah Asphalt Pavement Association (UAPA).
As Senator Hatch mentioned the other day, Utah’s roads and highways are some of the best in the nation. So much so, other lawmakers in Washington, D.C. continue to approach him asking just what is Utah’s secret for success? For us, it is no secret: strong leadership from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), matched by incredibly talented and dedicated producers and contractors who know how to keep Utah moving, equals roads that are the envy of much of the nation. The icing on the cake, however, or, to be more true to our industry, the extra inch of HMA on the project, continues to be an inherent and deeply rooted desire to be even better.
For the asphalt pavement industry in Utah, that means working hand-in-glove with the Utah Chapter of the APWA, cities, counties, private owners, and UDOT to produce specifications that will increase durability without sacrificing stability, draw focus to longitudinal joints, emphasize smoothness for ride quality, make great products like Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA) even better, and create opportunities to work towards solutions that are both right and reasonable when changes need to be made. The hairy details of each of these specifications and the changes we have worked through can, and often do, take pages. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was close to getting a reserved parking space at UDOT during the summer months because I spent so much time in meetings there!
None of that matters when you see all of what you have worked for come to fruition. That, in my mind, continues to be the beauty of the road construction industry. We build things, we connect people, we keep the state moving, and we get to witness all of it take place each and every day. I saw it earlier this summer as the Central UDOT parking lot was paved with a HMA mix produced according to the new APWA specifications. I saw it ten years ago as I drove the roads of Utah with Senator Hatch, and I simply cannot wait to see what we can do even better in the future!