Better Roads Staff
“Unfortunately, decreases in the purchasing power of available funding, coupled with reduced funding levels, have led to deteriorating network conditions within most transportation agencies at the same time that demand for these facilities is increasing,” the introduction states. “As a result, many transportation agencies are shifting their priorities from a focus on system expansion to an increasing focus on system preservation. In fact, a number of agencies have recognized the cost-effectiveness associated with the use of preventive maintenance treatments to slow the rate of deterioration and to postpone the need for the most costly rehabilitation strategies.”
Pavement preservation is changing how road agencies work, the introduction says, and this is reflected in the examples of Missouri, Wyoming and Ohio above. “[T]he shift towards pavement preservation has not been entirely free from problems,” the introduction says. “For example, organizations that had previously separated the maintenance and capital improvement decision processes have had to overcome these institutional barriers in order to develop effective improvement programs that include preventive maintenance treatments.
“As a result of these and other changes impacting transportation agencies, the role of pavement management is changing,” the roadmap says. “In the past, pavement management was primarily considered to be used for assessing and reporting pavement conditions, prioritizing capital improvements, and estimating funding needs. Today, pavement management has the potential to fulfill a much broader (and more significant) role within a transportation agency.”
In addition to the more traditional roles it serves, pavement management can provide a link to maintenance and operations through the analysis of pavement preservation options. And it can provide the pavement performance data required to evaluate and calibrate the mechanistic-based performance models for use within a specific transportation agency.
A Vision for 2020
The roadmap attempts to clarify what the next 10 years will mean for agency pavement investments in its Vision for Pavement Management in 2020.
“Pavement management will make use of a new generation of technology so agencies are less dependent on manual labor for data collection,” the vision statement says. “Pavement management tools will allow agencies to communicate effectively with stakeholders, using clear statements that are tied to agency goals and pavement worth.
“Within an asset management framework, pavement management will be used for investigating decisions and program options in both private and public sectors,” the roadmap envisions. “A pavement management analysis will consider new materials and construction/design practices, as well as other factors that influence project and treatment selection, including safety, congestion and sustainability. As a result of these changes, pavement management will be robust, comprehensive and credible, and will address agency needs at the project, network and strategic levels.”
Asset management goes hand-in-hand with pavement management and pavement preservation. It provides a coordinated approach to managing infrastructure assets over the course of their entire life cycle, thus improving performance, increasing safety and providing greater value to the community.
With an asset management approach, optimal decisions on what would be the most effective mix of preserving, maintaining, renewing or replacing infrastructure components are based on accurate data, economic analysis and sound engineering.
Decisions are also supported by performance measures and performance-based goals. “The availability of quality data has had a tremendous impact on an agency’s ability to compare different investment options and to make sound business decisions that consider both engineering and economic factors,” says Nastaran Saadatmand of FHWA’s Office of Asset Management.
FHWA developed the roadmap through three regional workshops held in Phoenix, Dallas and McLean, Va., in 2010. Stakeholders participating in the workshops included representatives from state and local highway agencies, Canadian government agencies, academia and private industry.
Twenty-three short-term needs (the next five years) and 24 long-term needs (the next five to 10 years) were identified and prioritized by participants. Meeting these needs would require more than $14.5 million in funding. Needs were grouped by four theme areas:
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