P&S Scores Statewide Award on I-4
When P&S Paving Inc., Daytona Beach, Florida, was founded by Tim and Todd Phillips a little more than 30 years ago, the company had just one employee and one piece of equipment. The company’s three decades of operation have been marked by a number of milestones, from growing to employ more than 250 people and performing jobs valued at up to $75 million.
In 2023, P&S achieved another major milestone. The company was recognized with four Florida Pavement Excellence Awards from the Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida (ACAF). Not only was P&S awarded two special project awards and a third award for the best project in Florida’s District Five, but the company’s District Five project was also recognized with the A.P. Bolton Award for the Florida Road Builder of the Year.
The A.P. Bolton Award is ACAF’s highest award, named in honor of one of the association’s charter members with a reputation for high quality work. “A.P. Bolton was such an influential figure in our industry that it makes sense for him to be associated with the project that stood above all others in the state,” said P&S Quality Control Manager Tim Carter.
The award-winning statewide project is selected from award-winning district projects, including new construction, reconstruction or major overlays on interstate or multi-lane primary highways requiring at least 30,000 tons of asphalt.
“This was the first time we’ve ever won a statewide award for any of our projects,” Carter said. “When they said our name at the ceremony, I almost couldn’t believe it. For a 250-employee company with just one asphalt plant to win that award out of all the fantastic paving companies in the state is amazing.”
The Florida Pavement Excellence Awards have been recognizing and honoring the best in pavement construction in the state of Florida since 1979.
All Eyes on I-4
The A.P. Bolton Award-winning project stretched along 10.25 miles of Interstate 4 in Florida’s Volusia County, from west of County Road 4139 to State Road 44.
“I-4 is a highly traveled major artery that connects Tampa to Daytona,” Carter said, adding that it’s a common route not only for the transport of goods and services from one side of the state to the other but also for traffic to and from Florida’s theme park attractions. “Everybody in this area who goes anywhere and does anything, whether it’s work or weekend, travels on I-4.”
This, Carter added, includes many district and DOT employees. “It was a very high-profile project,” he said. It’s also along the route Carter travels to and from work each day. “Let me tell you, it was horrible. I couldn’t wait for it to be fixed. So, I was pretty excited when we won the contract to do it.”
According to Carter, the pavement had reached the end of its service life. “It had a rough texture, a lot of surface cracking, some rutting, loss of retroreflectivity of striping—those types of things,” he said.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) opted for full-depth repairs of a crack running the entire length of the project before milling and resurfacing the existing roadway, as well as pavement widening and improved traffic signalization.
“Mill and resurfacing was the most reasonable approach to rehabilitate this roadway,” Carter said. But before the road could be resurfaced, P&S had to repair that crack. “When the road was widened years ago, the joint between the existing pavement and the widened section turned into a huge crack running for miles in both directions. There had been some attempts to patch along some of the crack to try to mitigate further damage, but the patching was almost as bad as the crack itself.”
To repair the crack, P&S milled 2 feet on either side of the crack to a depth of 8 inches a full 10.25 miles and paved back two 3-inch lifts and one 2-inch lift of asphalt before milling and resurfacing the entire stretch of roadway.
“When we bid on the job, the first thing that caught my eye was its proximity to the plant—less than 10 miles,” Carter said. The second thing that caught his eye was the crack. Several years ago, P&S performed a very similar job on an adjacent section of I-4 in Volusia County.
“With the success of the previous project, I think that gave the department confidence to utilize that process again,” Carter said, adding that P&S’s past experience gave the company an edge over other bids. “We had already done something similar on I-4, so we knew we were capable of it, equipped for it, and had the knowledge and experience to perform that job.”
Time to Trench
P&S bid the project in 2020, began construction Nov. 21, 2021, and completed the project Nov. 13, 2022. The first 42 days on the project were devoted exclusively to the trench repair along the crack.
“When you’re paving a trench, you have to take your time,” Carter said. You also need to have the right equipment, he added. This includes a 4-foot milling machine, a 4-foot roller and some kind of device to get material into the trench. “If you have the right equipment and you take your time to get it right, by the time you’re ready to pave, you’ll have a solid base on which to pave.”
To introduce material into the trench, P&S devised and fabricated an attachment for the front of a skid steer that would feed material down into the trench. “There was nothing on the market we could buy off the shelf, so we had to bring everyone together to brainstorm and make our own.”
To test and tweak the device, P&S milled and filled a 4-foot trench at its main office. “Once we got the device right, we invited the DOT officials out to the plant to demonstrate how we planned to execute the project,” Carter said. “Not only did that illustrate the spirit of partnership we have with the DOT, but it also put everyone’s minds at ease before we got out to the project.”
According to Carter, this quick ability to problem solve is where P&S’s smaller size is an asset. “It’s easier to create a culture of communication and innovation in a smaller company,” he said. “There’s not a lot of red tape if you need to get something done. If we need to order something, we order it. If we need to make something, we make it.”
Once the trench was milled out and refilled, P&S milled the entire span of pavement (including the new trench) before resurfacing. “Some of the repair efforts of the trench were sacrificed to make a smooth ride all the way across the pavement so you’d never know there was a repair underneath,” Carter said.
“Other than the trench, this was a fairly standard mill and resurface project,” Carter said. “That said, there are some basic tenets that go along with any successful mill and resurface project.”
Among these best practices, Carter stresses the importance of taking time to mill properly. “A smooth ride doesn’t start at the top, it starts at the bottom,” he said. Consistency is key, from keeping a consistent milling speed to a consistent flow of trucks and a consistent paving speed. “If you limit the amount of times the paver has to stop then you will limit the possibility of bumps and joint issues.”
This also requires consistency at the plant. “The best way to keep your paver moving is to control your trucking and keep your plant production rates consistent,” he said. “And the best way to make consistent mix is to consistently make it; don’t stop and start and stop and start.”
In total, the I-4 project required 58,000 tons of asphalt: 48,000 tons of Superpave 12.5 mm Traffic Level D HMA for the trench and 1 ½-inch surface course (with PG76-22 polymer modified AC) and 10,000 tons of open graded friction course (OGFC) FC5 HMA with PG76-22 for the ¾-inch friction course.
“Whenever you’re making OGFC in the winter, it’s a challenge—even in central Florida,” Carter said. The I-4 project had to be paved at night and FC-5 HMA has a minimum laydown temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in Florida. “We can often get down below that between midnight and 5 a.m.”
Carter’s decision to use a warm mix additive in all of its mixes, including hot mix, was particularly useful for this project. “We don’t necessarily make warm mix designs with them, but we use Ingevity’s Evotherm product in everything, typically as a compaction aid,” Carter said. This means that even when placing HMA, the asphalt is workable at lower temperatures than it would otherwise be.
P&S also uses Evotherm as its anti-strip additive. “Everyone here is required to use a liquid anti-strip in all mixes, so it doubles to fill that role,” Carter said. “Why wouldn’t I use a product that also allows me more compaction at lower temperature without having to do anything differently?”
FDOT allows FC-5 to be placed at 60 degrees Fahrenheit when approved by the engineer, based on the contractor’s demonstrated ability to achieve satisfactory surface texture and appearance. For mixes containing PG76-22, the minimum average temperature may be further reduced to 55 when using a warm mix technology, if agreed to by both the engineer and the contractor.
“We were able to use Evotherm to our advantage to meet our production goals and avoid the loss of production days due to weather,” Carter said. “And the results speak for themselves.”
Even before P&S won the A.P. Bolton Award, the I-4 project was a success. “We had a lot of district folks call up to let us know we were doing a great job on I-4,” Carter said. “I can’t tell you how many people called to tell us how good it looked, how well it rides, that we did a great job. That speaks volumes to the quality.”
The judges for the Florida Pavement Excellence Awards—including both FDOT district employees and ACAF staff—must have agreed. Projects are judged based on a number of factors, including technical scores for mix production, rideability score from a profiler test, and a visual score.
“The judges ride each lane of the road to check joint construction, edge of pavement, texture and surface anomalies, etc.,” Carter said. “The joints on our I-4 project are practically indiscernible, the texture of the OGFC was super consistent, the lane lines are symmetrical. It looks like we laid out that asphalt mat like a black carpet.”
But appearance wasn’t the only area in which the I-4 project scored well. It also achieved an International Roughness Index (IRI) of 31—the best IRI score P&S has ever received. “Most highways like this score anywhere in the 40-50 range,” Carter said. “That 31 isn’t the lowest score in the state, but it’s among the lowest. I think that’s what pushed us over the edge to win the statewide award over some of the bigger contractors in the state who had really constructed some outstanding projects that same year.”
P&S also received bonus composite pay factors for the surface level and friction course. “We scored very well on mix production here at the plant and on our densities, and we got incentives for those as well,” Carter said. “We did well in all three categories; it’s a great looking project, it rides great, and it paid well.”
Carter attributes the smoothness to the expertise of the crew to use the automatics on its Roadtec RP190 paver. “The pavement equipment is naturally a big part of that, but having the expertise and the skill to use the automated electronics is key,” Carter said. “It’s one thing to have them, but it’s another thing to know how to use them and use them well. If you can use automatics well, this is what you get.”
P&S has established a training process to ensure its crew knows how to best utilize the automatics on its equipment. The company regularly sends its mechanics and paving crews to Roadtec’s training program in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“Success comes down to discipline,” Carter said. “Do you keep your folks well trained, your equipment in good working order, and your morale high?” Keeping morale high, he adds, includes ensuring every employee feels as though their opinions matter, their good work is appreciated, and they are full participants in their employers’ victories.
“When we won these awards, we really shared that victory with everybody,” Carter said. “When we received the incentives from the ride bonus, the owner chose not to pocket that money but instead shared it with all the people involved in that project because they did such a great job. I’ve never worked anywhere where someone did that.”
Carter said everyone at P&S was at peak performance on the I-4 project, but that the company’s success isn’t a matter of performing on one single job. “Our guys perform every single day,” he said. “Not once or twice a week, but all five days of the workweek, week after week. That’s the real trick. Anybody can do something well once, but can you repeat that over and over again?”
Smoother AND Safer
The I-4 project also included widening of the shoulders. “If you drive around Florida, you’ll see that many of our shoulders are up to 10 feet wide,” Carter said, adding that FDOT has been adding that to many contracts in the past few years. “The DOT makes extensive use of the Road Ranger program, and they want to make sure these contracts are designed to maximize safety for those guys out there helping motorists.”
An intelligent transportation system (ITS) was installed at the intersection of State Route 44, another major corridor that runs north-south through Volusia County. “The Volusia County Fairgrounds are about 1/4 mile from that intersection, and there’s a lot of activity at the fairgrounds throughout the year, so they upgraded the traffic signals to make traffic there more efficient and safer,” Carter said.
“Ultimately, this project enabled FDOT to repair that crack while giving this piece of roadway some new life with the resurfacing part of the project while also improving safety by widening the shoulders and adding some signalization to improve traffic flow.”
Three Projects, Four Awards
Caption: Space Coast Regional Airport is the nearest airport to Kennedy Space Center, one of the 10 field centers belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In addition to the two awards P&S received for its I-4 project, the company also received two Florida Pavement Excellence Awards in the special projects category. One of the awards was for the milling and resurfacing of runway nine at Space Coast Regional Airport.
“It’s a really old regional airport, so the project wasn’t without its challenges,” Carter said. P&S used machine control guidance through the milling phase to get the proper cross sections, then placed the P401 wearing course.
The second project for which P&S received a special projects award was the reconstruction of the running track at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, a world-renowned aviation school.
“They have a pretty robust sports program there at the university and host international track and field events,” Carter said. P&S was chosen to full-depth mill the oval running track and pave back 1 ¼ inches before the specialty contractor could come out to apply a rubberized surface course.
“The paving of the underlying asphalt is key for the specialty contractor who will be placing the rubberized materials on top,” Carter said, given the tight specs they must meet to ensure no competitors are given an unfair advantage. “When the paving is done, these guys typically have to grind out some areas and fill in other areas. The more of that they have to do, the worse the paving job was.”
After the track was completed, P&S received a letter from the specialty contractor’s field superintendent that said, in his opinion, “the work by P&S couldn’t have gone better. In fact, it was probably the best paving job I’ve seen in 10 years.”
The superintendent told Carter they sometimes use 25 to 35 barrels of filler material to even out the pavement, but this job required only two and very minor grinding. “That goes back to the discipline that our guys use when they’re paving these high spec projects,” Carter said.