David Armendariz’s Rejection Of Reclaimed Concrete For Road Material

In my previous blog post, I wrote about former Dickinson Street Maintenance manager David Armendariz’s hearing before the Civil Service Commission regarding his dismissal.  At this hearing, David Armendariz said that he believed that he was terminated, because he refused to accept and approve reclaimed concrete for use in road construction instead of the “Class V” material that was specified.

I can see what David was trying to accomplish by rejecting the reclaimed concrete as a substitute for “Class V” material.  In part, David might have been wrong, but I don’t know if anybody knows why, so I will try to explain this.

I received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, not Civil Engineering.  I worked as an estimator, superintendent, project manager, inspector, and engineer on many types of projects.  I was certified by the Arizona Department of Transportation as an inspector, and I was certified as a nuclear density gauge operator to test density, a.k.a “compaction”.

In my career, very early on, I experienced my company owner, other company owners, and project owners, trying to get me to do something that was not right, to sign off on, approve, allow, cover up, or participate in work that was faulty, failing, deficient, or substandard.  I had to think about, who was this going to harm, who was this going to endanger, what are the possible consequences, and who would take the blame for this?

I realized that in just about every case, should the deficiency be discovered, should the work fail, should someone become hurt, the person who asked me to bend or break the rules would be saying, “I don’t know anything about it, you need to talk to that engineer who inspected it, signed off on it, and said that everything was O.K.”

David Armendariz did not want to accept reclaimed concrete as a substitute for “Class V” material, even if the Dickinson Public Works Director told him verbally that this was O.K., because David knew that if anything wrong happened later, he would be the one to take the blame, because he was the one who approved it and allowed it to be used.

David Armendariz also said that he did not want to use the reclaimed concrete because it did not compact.  I know exactly what David Armendariz was talking about when he said this.  If you have ever received a load of clean washed gravel at a jobsite, that has stones all the same size, with no fine material, running a compactor over this, is like running a compactor over marbles, everything just vibrates and it doesn’t compact.  You could look at a batch of reclaimed concrete, with no fines, and think that this is going to be like trying to compact a bunch of marbles.

The governing authority on road construction in North Dakota, is the North Dakota Department of Transportation Standard Specification For Road And Bridge Construction specification book.  This book published by the ND DOT, is 590 pages in length.  You can look it up on the internet, and read all 590 pages.

I found the sections of this ND DOT specification book, that state that reclaimed concrete is an allowable substitute for any class of aggregate specified for road base, however, this reclaimed concrete still has a gradation requirement:

From the ND DOT SSRBC:

SECTION 302, AGGREGATE BASE AND SURFACE COURSE

302.03 MATERIALS

When the Plans specify a class of aggregate for the base, the Contractor may substitute Salvaged Base Course that meets Section 817, “Salvaged Base Course.”

 

SECTION 817, SALVAGED BASE COURSE

E. Salvage Base Course Containing Concrete Material.
Salvaged base course may be up to 100 percent concrete material.

B. Salvaged Base Course Gradation.
Sieve Size           Percent Passing
1-1/2 inch           100
1 inch                  90 – 100
No. 4                    35 – 85
No. 30                 16 – 50
No. 200               0.0 – 12.0

To be clear, the ND DOT SSRBC says that when the plans specify a class of aggregate for the base, the contractor may substitute salvaged base course that meets the requirement of section 817.  Section 817 says that the salvaged base course may be up to 100% concrete material, however section 817 also has a gradation requirement for the material.  100% of the material must pass through a 1-1/2″ sieve, 90% to 100% of the material must pass through a 1″ sieve, 35%-85% through a No. 4 sieve and so on.

I can understand David Armendariz trying to not accept reclaimed concrete that did not appear to have the required mix of material sizes, but the ND DOT SSRBC does allow reclaimed concrete to be substituted for aggregate used as base material.

Too bad nobody got out the ND DOT Standard Specifications For Road And Bridge Construction specification book, like a year ago.  But it is hard to read, in sections that refer to sections that refer to sections.

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3 thoughts on “David Armendariz’s Rejection Of Reclaimed Concrete For Road Material

  1. I’ll start off by saying that I am a licensed professional civil engineer with experience in highway/city/rural roadway construction and design. I have never met nor heard of this David character, but I worked in the Dickinson area for a private consultant with public and private clients and my former firm did do services for city of Dickinson.

    I don’t know the internal politics that exist in the city shop, but I will say that I have experienced the widespread tendency for people to perform shoddy work with shoddy materials and walk away and say “good enough, time for liquor, cigarettes, and gambling.” NDDOT has a material spec for recycled concrete, but it is a well regulated mixture of sizes of particles and not some hill Billy slop job of misc debris. It is possible that he was trying to stand up for the integrity of the project and his supervisor may have been trying to do someone a favor by purchasing their inferior material. This could have potentially been an instance of needing the equivalent of 91 octane, ethanol free gas for a boat engine and being told to put in 83 octane 10% ethanol…or not, maybe Dave is a idiot.

    P.S. I’m a life long ND resident and I love getting an outside perspective. I became your first YouTube subscriber and my friend became your second subscriber.

    P.P.S. I never would have heard about your blog without the contrived outrage of the many women on Facebook this summer. I show this blog to my friends any chance I can and several nights have been spent around the camp fire reading into the wee hours.

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    1. R.S.,

      I changed your name to just show your initials, so that you would not have any complaints. I didn’t know at the time about the character on the television show “King of The Hill” that uses this name as an alias.

      I was glad to read your comments for a number of reasons. The only people that ever truly see things from my point of view are engineers who went through a very difficult program, and then get out, and face the life-long frustration of trying to explain things to people, often with very little success. I mean things like the aspect ratio on tires, I am going to bypass the air conditioner compressor with this shorter belt, or cut this 4’x 8′ sheet of plywood into two pieces that are 2’x 8′.

      I write a lot of mean things about people in Dickinson, sometimes out of anger, sometimes this is what I believe, but overall I would like to make everyone aware so that everyone can decide if this is really how they want things to continue.

      I saw that you wrote that you and your friends go out camping and sit around talking. One of the things that I am enjoying now, is listening to a retired NASA engineer named Tim Coonbo Baker talk about the many Bigfoot on his family farm in NW Alabama, his Bigfoot hunting expeditions, and his later discovery of a whole separate species of Bigfoot called Dogman, that is actually very vicious towards humans. This Dogman, is very much like a werewolf, but it is as big as Bigfoot. The first time I heard about someone seeing one, was in 1996 when I was working with a much older engineer from Pennsylvania who had seen one. Look up Tim Coonbo Baker on YouTube.

      If you look at the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website that posts Bigfoot sightings by region, there were a number of very clear Bigfoot sightings on the Fort Berthold reservation. This past summer when I was working for an oil field service company and going to many locations on the reservation, my supervisor/co-worker had had problems on some of these locations while working by himself because something was watching him from the woods he believed, which he mentioned to “pumpers” and they were already aware because of other complaints. Some of the videos that I posted to YouTube were from this area. I hope to take more videos this summer, but I know to be more careful now, after having watched some of Tim Coonbo Baker’s YouTube videos.

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      1. I appreciate the added layer of discretion, but I took several precautions to remain anonymous ahead of time. Thank you.

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