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
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.