Pavement Preservation Coded in MAP-21
Better Roads Staff
For example, the term asset management is included in the language and is defined to include “a structured sequence of maintenance, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions that will achieve and sustain a desired state of good repair over the lifecycle of the assets at minimum practicable cost.”
The Maintenance Section of the law has been expanded to specifically define pavement preservation programs and activities. The final bill explicitly states that preservation activities are eligible for projects under the national highway and surface transportation programs.
“The new MAP-21 surface transportation legislation enacted July 6, 2012 contains language both specifically, and more generally, helpful to pavement preservation,” says Mike Buckingham, president, FP2 Inc., and director of pavement preservation for Colas.
FP2 began as the Foundation for Pavement Rehabilitation and Maintenance Research in 1992, as a nonprofit public charity to pursue and encourage research in pavement maintenance. In 2000 it changed its name to the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, which was dissolved in 2009 to form FP2 Inc., a nonprofit trade association that conducts political lobbying, among many other duties.
“Thanks to the strong support of members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, pavement preservation in the final bill was stronger than it was in either the House or Senate versions,” Buckingham says.
But even as the benefits of having preservation and asset management included in MAP-21 have become manifest, supporters say they have learned working at the federal level is never as simple as it seems. The preservation community says it now must make sure the “metrics” by which success of pavement preservation will be measured under MAP-21 are applicable to pavement preservation practice.
“We know now that an important theme of the new law is accountability for work undertaken under the legislation,” FP2’s Buckingham says. “The operative word here is ‘metrics’ or measurement of progress toward established goals. Our work now is shifting from getting pavement preservation included in federal law, to making sure the metrics by which progress in preservation will be measured are appropriate for the techniques.”
Right now, the most widely used metric for performance at the federal level is pavement smoothness as measured by the International Roughness Index (IRI). While this is appropriate for new construction or standard overlays – nearly every survey shows ride quality is the No. 1 criterion of the public in judging consumer satisfaction – the preservation community would like an additional metric such as a health index or remaining service life for preservation treatments. FP2 and its allies are working to make that happen.
Preservation at the NCAT Track
New quantitative research on pavement life cycle effects of pavement preservation started in late 2012, as the new National Center for Asphalt Technjology (NCAT) Pavement Preservation Effectiveness Study will bring the prestige of NCAT’s research facility to pavement preservation practice.
Bexar County applies a fundamental tenet of pavement preservation, that is, for the lowest-cost, long-term performance, treat roads before they show distress.
NCAT’s Pavement Test Track is funded and directed by a multi-state research cooperative program in which the construction, trafficking, and performance evaluations are carried out on 46 different 200-foot test sections around a 1.7-mile oval test track.
Each of the test sections is constructed using the asphalt materials and design methods used by individual sponsors. A fleet of heavy trucks is operated on the track in a highly controlled manner in order to apply a design lifetime of truck traffic (10 million equivalent single axle loads, or ESALs) in two years.
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