Surface Tech Goes to the Nation’s Capital

By July 06, 2023 Asphalt, ACE XP, Top Story

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”  - Brené Brown, Author

IMG_0055While many Americans were preparing for 4th of July celebrations, Surface Tech’s leadership team went to Washington, DC to meet with the Federal agencies and people making decisions on the future of the asphalt pavement market.  At the end of a very productive trip, it was obvious to all: there are some very smart people making significant decisions on how and what sustainable asphalt technologies will be included in a low-carbon asphalt market pushed by the Federal government.   (Photo: Surface Tech President Steve Santa Cruz greets LaToya Johnson, Pavement Design & Performance Team Leader)

The purpose of the meetings was two-fold.  First, while aramid fiber technology is not new, there is nobody in Washington, DC educating lawmakers or decisionmakers on the performance benefits and low-carbon benefits of aramid reinforced composite asphalt or ARCA.  “We have to tell our story about Surface Tech’s technology platform that verifiably improves the service life of asphalt pavements and reduces the embodied carbon footprint of asphalt mixes,” Surface Tech’s president, Steve Santa Cruz, said.  

The second reason for visiting the key players in Washington, DC was to listen and learn.  What is the status on issuing guidance on the new Federal Highway Administration’s $2 billion low-carbon materials grants program?  What role will additive play in the new specifications being developed for low carbon asphalt pavements?  How can Surface Tech be a thoughtful leader in implementation of the new specifications?

Steve Santa Cruz CEO and COO Pat Weaver arrive at GSA HQ“Professional staff in Washington, DC – even in the agencies - handle a multitude of issues.  Implementing Buy Clean policies is a complex undertaking.  Unless you show up and tell your story, it’s as if you never existed,” said Surface Tech’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Jay Hansen.

(Photo: Steve Santa Cruz CEO and COO Pat Weaver arrive at GSA HQ)

Surface Tech met with the professional staff at both the Federal Highway Administration and the General Services Administration to share with them the role ARCA’s technologies play in a low-carbon asphalt mix.  Surface Tech’s Chief Operating Officer, Pat Weaver, led the discussion on the technology and provided data verifying the results.  

Surface Tech provided a unique perspective in the meetings, helping the agencies to understand how the Biden Administration’s Buy Clean policies are taking hold outside the beltway.  Surface Tech’s leadership team also discussed the opportunities and challenges that are arising in real time out in the field.  

So what did we learn from the meetings that Surface Tech’s customers could appreciate:

  • Implementation of both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is in full swing in the agencies.  Congress’s role in these bills is essentially over.  Implementation is a very important part of the legislative process that is frequently overlooked and often not covered by traditional sources.
  • There is no voice for the asphalt pavement additive industry in Washington, DC.  Lobbying and educating on additive-related issues is nonexistent even though the industry’s fate rests decisions made by a few, and they control the billions in funding for the industry.

  • Asphalt is front and center on the minds of the decisionmakers.  When President Joe Biden said the Federal government will only procure low-carbon asphalt mix in the future, that was a clear message of what he expects the Federal agencies to accomplish, and they are doing it.

  • Surface Tech was recognized for its leadership.  In meeting after meeting, agency staff praised Surface Tech for its leadership in the low-carbon asphalt space.  One professional staff person said that they wished other companies and industry groups would follow Surface Tech’s model of educating the industry on what is taking place.
  • Partnership is key.  In meeting with the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Federal Highway Administration, and the General Services Administration, it is clear to Surface Tech’s executive team that bringing together industry stakeholder groups, the Federal government, and state DOT’s is key to successful, timely deployment of low carbon asphalt technologies.

NAPA staff listen intently as COO Pat Weaver reviews the data on ARCA

(Photo: NAPA staff listen intently as COO Pat Weaver reviews the data on ARCA)

After the meetings, Surface Tech’s executive team had its share of takeaways which it will share with its customers.  There was no doubt about the future of the asphalt pavement industry from the meetings.  The Federal government is poised to steer billions of dollars into the industry to deploy low carbon asphalt pavement technologies.  Now they know the role ARCA plays in the technology.