More than 120 of New Zealand’s foremost bitumen specialists and technical experts flocked to Villa Maria Estate in Auckland with the goal of averting ‘Tarmageddon’- a national crisis of aging roading networks impacted by increasing wear and tear, climate change and increasing amounts of traffic.
Preventing Tarmageddon was a full-day technical road surfacing and pavement workshop organised by Civil Contractors New Zealand, the National Surfacing Technical group and the National Pavements Technical group, held on Thursday 26 September. Discussion topics ranged from new innovations and ensuring knowledge is transferred to the next generation of bitumen specialists to bitumen coating thickness and road surface noise measurement.
CCNZ Technical Manager Stacy Goldsworthy said the event had ‘hit the mark’, and a focus on encouraging people to share their views led to successful debate.
“It was a different kind of event to what people would normally be exposed to. The content was wide-ranging but focussed on working with the black stuff. Having a focussed workshop helps engage the audience. It is what they are passionate about. This made for a successful event.”
Among the event’s 16 speakers was Auckland Transport Principal Asset Engineer Angela Parsonage, who won the event’s Young Presenter Award for presentations on future-proofing the knowledge held by bitumen specialists, and also the perils of ‘imposter syndrome’ – the situation of being qualified and knowledgeable, but being made to feel like an imposter because of factors like ethnicity and gender.
Ms Parsonage said she had been raised to be an engineer by her father and grandfather, who were also engineers. When it came to education and starting her career, she kept coming up against people who questioned whether engineering was the right career for her because of who she was rather than her ability or the knowledge she had. She said this was a challenge the industry needed to overcome through mentoring, sponsorship and greater understanding of the challenges people face in finding success and satisfaction in their roles.
Higgins Group Technical Manager Daniel Ludemann spoke about what he had learned from travelling the world and seeing countries with ‘circular economies’ to design out waste and create ways to re-use landfill materials for other purposes in roading and construction – such as creating systems to produce asphalt from tyres or other plastic waste, while Higgins Bitumen Manager Sean Bearsley spoke about the impact of climate change on roads and how to mitigate it by using the right surfacing materials and bitumen blends.
Other speakers included David Alexander of Road Science, who explored the mysteries of whether it is better to apply two coats of bitumen or not and Clare Dring of Fulton Hogan investigated ‘the thin black line’ in a presentation which looked at what happens when we get bitumen thickness wrong, and how to get it right.
Preventing Tarmageddon was New Zealand’s first full-day road surfacing and pavement workshop in the five years since the last Auckland Asphalt Forum event.
Mr Goldsworthy said after the success of this year’s event, the organising committee has put the wheels in motion for another event next year, returning it to an annual event as it was in the past.
He thanked this year’s major sponsors, which included Wirtgen Group, Z Energy and Winstone Aggregates, Geotechnics and Hiway Group, which each sponsored session streams, and those involved in organising the event.