How Norris Asphalt and the Iowa DOT won NAPA’s Sheldon G. Hayes Award for excellence in asphalt pavement

Updated Feb 15, 2016
A view of the new section of U.S. 34 in IowaA view of the new section of U.S. 34 in Iowa

Norris Asphalt Paving and the Iowa Department of Transportation have received the 2015 Sheldon G. Hayes Award, the annual honor given by the National Asphalt Pavement Association to the highest quality asphalt pavement in the country.

During NAPA’s annual meeting in La Quinta, California, the two entities were recognized for work on a 15-mile stretch of U.S. 34 located in Montgomery and Adams counties in Iowa. NAPA cited the project for its use of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) at the base, intermediate and surfaced levels, and for its smoothness, density and lack of imperfections.

The project used 79,000 tons of asphalt and included widening a 1.8-mile section from two lanes to four lanes that involved incorporating an intersection with U.S. 71, followed by reducing U.S. 34 back down to two lanes. Work also included turning and climbing lanes.

“When you talk about the varying widths, that’s extremely difficult to do,” says Norris Asphalt President Brady Meldrem. “It’s not just put the paver down and measure. The lanes go from side to side, and Bob Mobley (paving superintendent) and the whole team did a great job of getting it all laid down. I don’t think there was a flat spot on this project. I think there were passing lanes going up every hill.”

Mobley added that a half-inch to 1 inch of the road surface was milled off the east side of the roadway to start. “It was widened 4 feet on each side, even in the four-lane section,” Mobley says. “What was difficult in the four-lane section was going from two lanes to four lanes in such a short area.”

The RAP used in the project came from the milling work, which covered about 13 miles., according to Norris Project Manager Dan Roberts. He added that the base mix was 21 percent RAP, followed by 20 percent in the intermediate mix and 17 percent in the surfaced mix.

Iowa DOT Resident Construction Engineer Scott Nixon lauded the company for its skilled staff and the company’s ability to handle the multiple aspects of the project.

“The U.S. 34 project was fairly complex in the fact that it contained nine climbing lanes, five bridges to transition into, two major intersections with turn lanes and variable widths, as well as transitions into and out of a 2-mile long, four-lane section with a major interchange,” he says.

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Inspecting the project site was Ray Brown, National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) emeritus director. “At the time of inspection, the completed surface was very smooth and dense without any cracking, rutting, raveling, or segregation,” Brown says.

2016-02-10 Sheldon G. Hayes Winner & Finalists (2015) Sheldon G Hayes Award LogoThe Sheldon G. Hayes Award is named for NAPA’s first chairman. Projects, which must use more than 50,000 tons of asphalt, are eligible for the award the year after it wins a NAPA Quality In Construction Award. They are evaluated on smoothness and are then visually inspected by an independent pavement consultant such as Brown.

Finalists for the award included:

  • Kelly Paving of Williamstown, West Virginia, and West Virginia Department of Transportation District 6 for work on I-70 in Wheeling and Tridelphia, West Virginia
  • Manatt’s of Ames, Iowa, and the Iowa DOT for Iowa 1 in Johnson, Linn, and Jones counties;
  • Norris Asphalt and the Iowa DOT for Iowa 92 in Adair County. (Norris Asphalt was a double finalist.)