Better Roads Staff
5. Prioritize projects on basis of highest financial consequences.
Calculate the cost of rehabilitation at the optimum time versus complete reconstruction for each pavement category. The projects with the largest cost differential between rehab and reconstruction should get priority.
6. Select strategies based on lifecycle cost, not initial cost.
Example: a simple 2-inch overlay of badly cracked pavement may cost 20 percent less than a cold-in-place recycling treatment and overlay, but the latter will perform at satisfactory levels for more years, making it the more cost effective choice.
7. Use cost-effective rehabilitation strategies, optimize mix designs, and require good construction practices.
By using a pavement condition survey to determine the mode of pavement failure, an agency can improve its specifications to enhance performance.
8. Develop a preventive maintenance program that is in alignment with the project prioritization process.
Prevention tactics vary according to pavement category. For example, chip seals and crack sealing may be appropriate for rural roads, but not for high-load/high volume Interstates.
Adapted from “Pavement Management System Based on Financial Consequence,” by Sohila Bemanian, Patty Polish, and Gayle Maurer. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1940, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, DC, 2005, pp. 32-37.
The Other Side of Pavement Triage
Pavement professionals prefer to think of triage as a set of priorities: the most important roads are taken care of first, the least important, last. But the idea is, all pavements get treated in due course.
In an emergency medical setting — say, in the wake of a large natural disaster or a bloody battle in a war zone — the dark side of triage is the sacrifice of a patient who is too far gone to save, or whose life can only be saved at the expense of several other lives. Can that happen in a road management program?
Yes, if road funding stays low enough, long enough. But among the agencies contacted for this report, that time is not imminent.
Like most road agencies, Battle Creek, Michigan, has seen a steady erosion in road funding since the early 2000s, and, like most road managers, Chris Dopp, city engineer, has responded by putting more of his budget into prevention.
“We started passing over total reconstructions because they consume so much money,” Dopp told Better Roads. “It just made sense to focus on treating the good pavements at the right time with preventive maintenance.”
Passing over pavements that have exceeded their design lives and need rebuilding is not ideal, but Dopp points out that continued decline does not add to the future cost of rebuilding them. The strategy then becomes one of keeping them safe.
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