Feb 06, 2023
DeSilva Gates Hosts FHWA Officials at Asphalt Plant in Sunol
On January 27, 2023, DeSilva Gates Materials hosted a tour of its Sunol sphalt plant and aggregate mining operations for 24 Federal Highway Administration officials. The group included representatives from the FHWA Headquarters, California and Hawaii divisions, and Local Technical Assistance Program, and also from Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
According to CalAPA, of which DeSilva Gates is a member, the FHWA conducts various peer exchanges to help stay current on innovations and best practices in the transportation and construction industry, which is in alignment with the agency’s “Every Day Counts” initiative to identify and promote new, innovative and underutilized technologies, techniques and other best practices, encouraging their widespread adoption.
The tour was coordinated by Chu Wei, asset manager and pavements engineer for the FHWA’s California Division. “The FHWA’s U.S. Territorial Peer Exchange group enjoyed the tour at the DeSilva Gates Sunol Plant, and this allows the group to view and learn about this innovative plant facility in California,” the FHWA’s Wei said following the event. “Special thanks to our gracious tour hosts, Tracy Zubek and Lisa Nordine.”
The group received a safety briefing and orientation by DeSilva Gates officials and listened to presentations by CalTrans and CalAPA before the tour began. During the tour, the group was shown how hot mix asphalt is made, including how aggregates and additives are incorporated and how testing helps confirm that the final product will perform as designed.
“It was an honor for DeSilva Gates Aggregates to host the FHWA among others for a plant tour and question-and-answer session,” said Zubek, Quality Control manager for DeSilva Gates Aggregates and also CalAPA Technical Advisory Committee co-chairman. “We feel that it is important to strengthen the relationships with municipalities while teaching them about how quality HMA and RHMA is produced. The Q and A regarding rubberized HMA and the rubber plant was a great teaching moment.”
The tour also gave officials an opportunity to ask questions about the HMA process, including how DeSilva Gates incorporates Reclaimed Asphalt Pavements (RAP) into pavement mixes and how the company utilizes processed rubber from waste tires in California into asphalt pavement mixes.
“Because we’ve had so much background in rubber, we could share those experiences,” said Cathrina Barros, chief of the Caltrans Office of Asphalt Pavements. “It’s good to be able to take our lessons learned and put them to good use.”
“I just thought it was a really good representation of all the things that we do in asphalt and at Caltrans. It was very exciting for me,” Barros said.