Celebrating the History of the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show

For the past 46 years, contractors, suppliers, governmental agency representatives, and consultants from the Rocky Mountain West have held an annual conference in Colorado to discuss new developments and quality advancements of asphalt pavements. Recognized now as the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show, the event has a proud history and much has changed over the years. We commemorate the 30th Annual Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show with this historical summary.

How it All Began 1973 - 2003

In early 1973, Charlie Owen, Regional Engineer from the Asphalt Institute of Chicago, contacted Walt Howat from the Asphalt Institute of Denver, to organize a seminar for the Western Mountain State Region. Walt contacted various asphalt industry representatives in the area to serve on an organizing committee and developed a program for the first Asphalt Pavement Seminar. The seminar committee consisted of representatives from sponsoring agenices which included the asphlat Institute (AI), Colorado State University(CSU), U.S. Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Colorado Division of Highways, Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wyoming, University of Wyoming (UW), Colorado Contractors Assocation (CCA), Wyoming State Highway Department, and the National Park Service.

Those Serving on those early Organizing Committees Included:
  • Bill Paukovich, Brannan Sand and Gravel
  • Bob Bohman, Federal Highway Administration
  • Bob Warburton, Wyoming Department of Transportation
  • Bud Brakey, Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Bud Morgan, Cobitco
  • Dave Fraser, Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Don Lamb, University of Wyoming
  • Gordon Weatherly, Douglas County
  • H.W. "Buck" Richardson, Cobitco
  • Herman Altergott, Mountain Aggregates
  • Jack Knott, AGC of Wyoming
  • Jay Lower, Colorado Contractors Association, Inc.
  • John Boring, Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association
  • Marion Rensink, Sinclair Refining Company
  • Marty Everett, US Forest Service
  • Max Rothschild, El Paso County
  • Mike Mikelson, Western Paving
  • Skip Bettis, Siegrist
  • Swede Kamm, Power Equipment Company
  • Walt Howat, Asphalt Institute
  • Walter Bartholomew, Colorado State University
  • with others that can not be recalled at this time.
In the first year of the conference several attendees had trouble finding the Lory Student Center on the Colorado State University (CSU) campus in Fort Collins, Colorado. Not everyone knew their way around the University facility and many arrived late. Early conference topics dealt with patching and maintenance issues. Use of emulsions was a frequent topic. Quite often, the main source of speakers were those members from the Asphalt Institute. As Walt Howat traveled throughout the Rocky Mountain Region, he would also find speakers who were working on "interesting" projects and invite them to speak at the seminars. Finally, many remember fondly the "Attitude Adjustment Hour" following the day's sessions. Walt Howat and the Asphalt Institute were well noted for gathering everyone for drinks and refreshments in the Holiday Inn-University Park hospitality room. As many recall, the topics of the day were discussed along with promoting the benefits of asphalt pavement.

In those early days the seminar lasted one and a half days with one general session and a $19.00 registration fee. By 1981 the registration fee became $21.00 and concurrent sessions were taking place in the Lory Student Center at CSU.

For the first 24 years, the event was known as the "CSU Asphalt Paving Conference." The early years of the conference centered on asphalt industry suppliers, producers, and other members of the Asphalt Institute. In addition, public sector agencies at the Federal, State, and local level were encouraged to attend and participate.

Speakers of Interest

Throughout the conference history several speakers of national and local prominence have presented. For example, the 24th Seminar held in 1997 included a presentation on "Improving rioritization of Highway Funding in the Colorado State Budget" by State Treasurer, Bill Owens. Other prominent speakers over the years included John Gray (National Asphalt Pavement Association), Ed Miller (AI), Donald Lamb (UW), Neil Grigg (CSU), Doug Bernard (FHWARegion 15), Dwight Bower and A. Ray Chamberlain (CDOT), and Lester Lamm, then with the Highway User Federation.

The committee most always sought out speakers from academia and research institutions who were pioneering research and development of asphalt pavement technologies.
  • Professor Monosmith (UC - Berkeley) "Different Compaction Methods Related to Performance"
  • Dr. Matt Witczak "Colorado's Mix Investigation Study"
  • Dr. Ray Pavlovich (New Mexico) "I-80 Polymer Study"
  • Dr. E. Ray Brown (Auburn) "Ignition Oven" and "Stone Mastic Asphalt"
  • Dr. Jon Epps (Nevada-Reno) "Engineering Education Direction", and "AC Content Round Robin"
  • Dr. Scott Shuler (Texas A & M) "Additives and Modifiers", and "VMA in 1993 - Volumetrics"
  • Dr. Ken Kendhal (Auburn) "Large Stone Mixes"
  • Dr. Harold Von Quintus (Texas) "Pavement Distress and Mixture Evaluation

Using Performance Related Criteria

"Knowledgeable speakers who have changed positions and sometimes areas of experitse have presented over the years. In 1988, Tim Aschenbrener, a Project Engineer for CTL/Thompson, co-authored a paper "Design and Construction Consideration When Paving Over Expansive Soils." A City of Aurora Pavement Engineer, Steve Mueller, presented "Pavement Management from the Local Perspective" in 1994. In 1981, a young engineer developing pavement management software, and Ron Youngman, Centennial Engineer, presented, "Pavement Management for Small Cities."

Topics and Technologies

What goes around comes around. Many topics being evaluated, discussed, and considered for implementation today were presented several years ago. For example, in 1977, Rick Harvey (WYDOT) and Doug Bernard (FHWA) made presentations on "Asphalt Pavement Recycling." P. Jay Ruckel (FHWA) presented advantages of the "Resurfacing, Rehabilitation, and Restoration" program. Bud Brakey was on the program to talk about tender mixes (even before Superpave) and recycling was a session topic once again.

By 1988 the concurrent sessions were a permanent fixture with one devoted to Engineering and Materials and the other to Construction and Maintenance. The Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) appeared on the program for the first time with an overview of the asphalt portion of this five-year research study. "Methods to Predict Stripping of Bituminous Pavement Mixture" was presented by Dr. Badru Kiggundu of Auburn University (pre-National Center for Asphalt Technologies (NCAT)), and Bob Rask gave an update on the WASHTO Rutting Study. Each of these were problem topics throughout the western states. On the construction and maintenance side, "Low Cost Squeegee Seals", "Chip Seals", and "Stabilizing Gravel Roads" was discussed. And yes, "Hot Recycling State-of-the-Art."

Two topics of note from the 1992 seminar included Bob Bisgard's report from his statewide tour, "Successful Performing Asphalt Pavements", and the introduction to Colorado of the SHRP-produced "Distress Identification Manual" by Denis Donnelly. The closing sessions of this seminar consisted of a series of round table discussions on several maintenance topics. This format was considered worthwhile as it provided individual attendees to "talk across the table" and discuss details of their day-to-day activities. This years' topics were "Compaction", "Equipment", "Surface Seals", and "Year Round Hand Patching."

In 1993 Ken Wood reported on an up and coming technology, "Cold-In-Place Recycling" and Tim Aschenbrener introduced us to "European Asphalt Testing Equipment." Matt Witczak presented the findings from "Colorado's Asphalt Mix nvestigative Study" which pointed out the need to recognize the low void mixtures and compactive effort as a function of pavement loading. The round table discussion topics this year included "Chip Seals", "Compaction", "Crack Sealing and Other Surface Seals", and "Use of Recycled Materials in Maintenance."

By 1994 "Performance Related Designs" were beginning to be recognized along with the use of "Volumetrics" and "QA/QC" programs with a follow-up presentation by Nick Turnham, Jr., of the Hot Mix Asphalt Center, "Asphalt Inspection Certification." A panel discussion provided hands-on information on "Pavement Management from the Local Perspective" by Steve Mueller and Drew Scheltinga. The "Longitudinal and Transverse Joint Preparation" topic, presented by Jim Scherocman, was included in the round table discussions along with "Compaction" and "Pavement Rehabilitation."

Ken Wood and Rick Harvey introduced "Stone Mastics Asphalt" to the seminar in 1995. Each made a presentation on SMA projects in their areas. Brian Weimer also presented findings from one of the first MEGPEC-sponsored studies, "Uniform Specifications for Denver Metro". This provided an excellent forum to help unify local agencies on minimizing mix designs. Don Brock made his first appearance at the seminar this year making a presentation on "Equipment Innovation."

The implementation of SHRP was a constant theme through these years with such presentations by John D'Angelo (FHWA) discussing plans for the introduction of testing equipment and procedures. At the local level, Bob LaForce reported on "CDOT's Implementation and Validation of the SHRP PG Grade Specifications." Tim Aschenbrener extended this theme with "CDOT's Implementation and Validation of SHRP Level 1 Mix Design" and the use of "Volumetric Acceptance of HMAC Mixes." Jim Scherocman's "Trouble Shooting During Paving" became an extension of the training program for field personnel on good construction and inspection procedures.

The year 1997 was the first to include the Asphalt Industry Forum in conjuction with the seminar. This Forum was held at the Fort Collins Marriott Hotel followed by the remainder of the seminar at CSU. As was the tradition the Holiday Inn - University Park was the site for the "Attitude Adjustment Hour", side meetings, and lodging for the attendees. Distinguished general session speakers included Ed Miller of the Asphalt Institute and Bill Owens, Colorado State Treasurer. The Lunch speaker was Vance Johnson of the Denver Broncos. John Ward presented "Warranty Specifications in Colorado" to the seminar and Tom Alcorn reminded us of the importance of "Work Zone Safety." The previously held round-table discussions were expanded to formal panel discussions held at the CSU Lory Student Center. Topics of the year included "QA/QC", "Chip Seal Issues", "Subgrade and Base Preparation for Asphalt Pavements" and "Paving Roadway Maintenance Equipment." And this was the first year that vendor booths were recognized by the seminar. All in all, the forum, seminar, panel discussions, and vendor booths along with a grand prize drawing made this a three-day event.

In 1999 a new five track format provided a great opportunity to expand the variety of asphalt pavement presentations and speakers addressing issues of interest to industy, state and local agencies. Rubblization, longitudinal joints, new devvelopments in AC plant equipment, the ignition oven, design/build, warranty projects, and other topics were the highlight of the 26th Annual Conference held in 1999. These topics illustrated the leading edge technology presented at this meeting.



In 2000, the topic related to "Understanding Asphalt Repair Strategies" by Alan Curtis, Consultant, provided a global perspective on pavement preservation and rehabilitation. This topic was expanded to several workshops held throughout the state. Also, this was the first of a series of interesting and entertaining presentations on "Compaction Basics." Chuck Deahl of Compaction America, and John Ball of Top Quality Paving began individual and team presentations on what can be done to improve the quality of hot mix asphalt paving and compaction.

These presentations have been repeated over recent years due to popular demand by construction attendees. This was also the year for an emphasis on the speed of construction with a session devoted to the topic, "Get In, Get Out, and Stay Out!"

"Workplace Violence", "Motivating Employees", "Minimizing the Hassles of Construction Work Zones", and "Egg Sucking Dogs" were topics presented at the 2001 Conference. These reflected some of the industry's administrative concerns. Innovations in the asphalt paving industry were highlighted throughout most of the conference as it related to pavement design and performance, equipment application, constructability, and maintenance applications to serviceability.

Key topics found throughout the thirty years in the seminar and conference include recycling, paver controls, chip seals, pot hole patching, Superpave, recycling, overlay design, emulsions, smoothness, modifiers, pavement management, crack filling, fabrics, low volume roads, city streets, hot plants, and again, recycling.


The Big Move to Denver and the Addition of an Equipment Show After 24 years, the popularity of the seminar grew to the point where the facilities at Colorado State University were not large enough to handle the increasing number of attendees. Thus the need to move to a larger facility for both the meetings and vendor displays was taken into consideration for the 25th Annual event. The Holiday Inn - Denver International Airport was selected to house what has now become the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show. This facility with its multiple conference rooms and 47,000+ square foot trade center provide the size and amenities for a conference that
meets the needs of the asphalt pavement industry.


The Conference was conducted with a series of five concurrent sessions to address the diverse interests of the attendees. Sessions addressed issues related to asphalt specifications, materials, properties, construction, maintenance, and administration. Fifty-four exhibitors also took advantage of the new facility and brought equipment and materials to demonstrate.

With this move, the conference expanded from an attendance of approximately 500 or less at the Lory Student Center at CSU to a consistent increase in numbers at the Holiday Inn, DIA. From 1998, the first year in Denver, until 2002, the attendance has been 625, 850, 1100, 1148 and 1405 respectively. The number of exhibitors has expanded from 54 in 1998 to 75 in 2002.

Today the Asphalt Institute, American Public Works Association, Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association, Colorado Association of Road Supervisors and Engineers, Colorado Contractors Association, Inc., Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State University, Federal Highway Administration, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation sponsor the conference. A 26-person committee, representing the sponsoring organizations directs the operation of the overall conference, program, and equipment show.

Entertainment and Featured Topics


In addition to the wide variety of topics and speakers at the annual meetings, various side events have been an attraction to the participants. The "Attitude Adjustment Hour" has been a tradition over the years. This has provided an opportunity to meet the speakers and get reacquainted with attendees from throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. Some serious business and problem solving discussions have taken place during these evening sessions.

Over the years the seminar and conference is well noted for its speakers dinner. Some of the finest restaurants in Fort Collins and Denver have hosted the speakers for their efforts in preparing and making their presentations. Many experts from throughout the country want to be on the program to take part in the appreciation dinner as well as attend this gathering of asphalt technologists.

Featured luncheon and keynote speakers have also drawn a wide variety of noted individuals. Tom Sutherland, Iran captive and CSU professor, spoke at a seminar in Fort Collins and provided interesting insights on his experiences while in captivity. Baxter Black, poet and comedian, entertained the attendees at one seminar luncheon. Over the years sports celebrities such as Jerry McMorris (Colorado Rockies) and Vance Johnson (Denver Broncos) related their experience in the construction industry and its interaction with their sports involvement. Drew Allen Miller, master storyteller, delighted and informed the attendees at the 29th Conference with humor, wit and wisdom. And who could forget "George DeMopolis, Pavement Engineer, North Shore Public Transportation Authority, Chicago, Illinois." It took a while before those in the audience found out he was a harassing comedian rather than a paving expert.

Those Who are Behind it All


While Colorado State University has been involved for the past 30 years, the Department of Construction Management at CSU has handled the registrations, speaker contacts, meeting arrangements, and financial management for the last five years. Their efforts have been an integral part of its success and progress over the years. Under the direction of Larry Grosse and Sue Wagner-Renner, the program staff has handled the day-to-day details with efficiency and total attention to details. Another key in making the move a success was Larry Schneider of the City of Fort Collins and his staff for the addition of the Equipment Show. For the past four years, Danny Robinett of the City of
Loveland and his staff, along with the City of Fort Collins staff, have managed the indoor equipment show including layouts for the equipment displays and vendors.



Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the various planning committees, speakers, and the staff from the Department of Manufacturing Technology and Construction Management at Colorado State University, the conference and equipment show has grown in size and stature. It is now recognized as one of the largest regional conferences on asphalt pavement technology and draws attendees from throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. National speakers marvel at the diversity of topics along with the multiple attendee areas of interest. As long as issues and new technologies emerge in the asphalt pavement industry it is anticipated that the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show will continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of the asphalt industry.
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