Road Science Tutorial
Partnerships Promote Preservation Philosophy
Regional Partnerships Link State, Local Agencies with State-of-the-Art Pavement Preservation Practice.
By Tom Kuennen, Contributing Editor
As road agencies strapped for cash look for ways to optimize their limited dollars, many are taking a much closer look at the practice of pavement preservation.
And standing there to help is a host of regional partnerships across the United States and Canada that bring together representatives of state and local agencies, contractors, suppliers, academic institutions, consultants and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to promote pavement preservation while advancing research.
Pavement preservation techniques are being promoted by the FHWA and the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as cost-effective and environmentally-sustainable strategies designed to extend the life of existing pavements before they deteriorate substantially.
These techniques include nonstructural preventive maintenance surface treatments such as crack sealing, chip sealing, micro surfacing and thin-lift hot-mix asphalt paving.
Pavement preservation methods are intended to prolong pavement life, avoiding high future costs of reconstruction or rehabilitation through the expenditure of lesser amounts of money at critical points in a pavement’s life.
“Many of our Recovery Act project contracts were for preservation, including micro surfacing, ultrathin bonded wearing courses and thin HMA overlays.”
— Will Wingfield, public information officer, Indiana DOT
Pavement preservation pays off in both the short and long term. Experience shows that spending a dollar on pavement preservation can eliminate or delay spending $6 to $10 on future rehabilitation or reconstruction costs.
But because pavement preservation techniques must be applied at a critical point, their long-term successful use depends on the timing of the treatment. Pavement preservation dollars also may cannibalize dollars that might be used for capacity improvements or new construction.
If done too early, preservation techniques may mean scarce funds will be spent on a pavement not needing the treatment, while denying those funds to pavements that might. Done too late, the pavement will disintegrate even beneath the freshly placed treatment, wasting the effort. Research and education may be needed to implement the right program, and that’s where the regional partnerships are helping transportation agencies.
The partnerships – which meet at least once a year and sponsor workshops – are supported by AASHTO via its Transportation System Preservation•Technical Services Program (TSP•2), which maintains a “help desk” for pavement and bridge preservation problems, manages a website, facilitates the regional pavement and bridge preservation partnerships, and digitally records partnership meetings and posts them online, including technical presentations.
In late 2010, nine existing pavement and bridge preservation partnerships were enhanced by the consolidation of the three-state Western Pavement Preservation Partnership into the Rocky Mountain Pavement Preservation Partnership, to create a new Rocky Mountain West Pavement Preservation Partnership, for a new total of eight regional partnerships.
“We encourage all involved in pavement preservation in any way within the western states, including state highway agencies, local governments and metropolitan planning organizations, suppliers, contractors, academia and others, to get involved in the partnership,” says Lloyd Neeley, P.E., deputy maintenance engineer, Utah DOT, and western partnership chair for 2010-2011. “We especially want to encourage wider participation from local governments and MPOs.”
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