Better Roads Staff
Timely blueprint will direct research into pavement management and preservation
Anew “roadmap” indicating the direction of research in pavement management and pavement preservation is coming at just the right time, as states begin to openly curtail capacity improvements in favor of pavement preservation.
The Pavement Management Roadmap (FHWA-HIF-11-011) was articulated in 2011 by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and helps identify the steps needed to address current gaps in pavement management – thus preservation – and to establish research and development initiatives and priorities.
Pavement preservation is a network-level, long-term strategy that enhances performance and extends pavement life by using a variety of cost-effective surface treatments, and its successful application is intertwined with effective pavement management.
For states fleeing to pavement preservation, the issue is money. As cash streams dwindle, state DOTs are compelled to use available funds to preserve their existing road network with a goal of improving their pavement condition indices (PCIs).Take these examples:
• Missouri DOT has put citizens on notice that it will spend money to preserve the existing system, and that the days of major capacity rebuilds – like the massive New I-64 total expressway rebuild in St. Louis, where reconstruction resulted in the complete closure of portions of the expressway in 2008 and 2009 – are over.
In its five-year plan of June 2011, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission chose to reduce the size of DOT staff by 1,200, close 131 facilities and dispose of more than 740 pieces of equipment.
“By 2015, the proposed direction will save $512 million for vital transportation improvements,” the plan’s executive summary states. “As of Sept. 30, we had eliminated 667 staff positions, closed 23 facilities and disposed of 245 pieces of equipment. Those moves have allowed us to save $177 million since March of 2010 when the initial plan was put into action. More than $64 million of that money has been used to improve the state’s rural roads.”
In his November 2011 address to the Asphalt Emulsion Technologies Workshop sponsored by the Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association, MoDOT chief engineer David Nichols, P.E., said given current cash flow, system preservation would take priority over capacity improvements, as one of three goals.
“We are committed to keeping our roads and bridges in good condition for as long as we can with the resources we have, keeping our citizens safe, and delivering outstanding customer service,” Nichols said in St. Louis. He added that, in January 2012, MoDOT was going to seek legislative authority to create a public-private partnership with a goal of rebuilding I-70 from St. Charles to Kansas City as a toll highway, as tolls were the only way the project could be paid for given current funding levels.
• Wyoming DOT in November announced a strategy of preserving the state’s highways and bridges during the state’s current transportation funding crisis.
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