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Asset Management | Bridge Technology | Operations | Pavement

Pavement Management Roadmap

1. Introduction

Over the last few decades, transportation agencies have seen tremendous changes in the way business is conducted. For example, since the construction of the interstate highway system, there has been an increased emphasis on performance monitoring and the use of pavement management data to assist with planning and programming for maintenance activities and capital improvements. Additionally, the methods used to assess pavement condition have evolved in conjunction with other technological advancements so that automated procedures are more commonly being utilized than in the past. Moreover, advancements in computer capabilities and their availability have resulted in a plethora of new tools for designing, analyzing, and managing pavements. Most recently, this has led to the development of new mechanistic-empirical pavement design procedures with significantly larger and more diverse data requirements than have been previously used.

In addition to technological changes, transportation agencies have seen adjustments in the way decisions are being made. Within the past 10 years, there has been an increasing emphasis on asset management principles for resource allocation and utilization decisions that are based on system performance objectives. Under an asset management framework, investment decisions consider the trade-offs associated with different strategies and agencies strive to align tactical improvement programs with their strategic priorities. With asset management there is an increased focus on customer expectations and transparency in the decision process.

The availability of quality data has 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.

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. 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. However, the shift towards pavement preservation has not been entirely free from problems. 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. 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 support an agency's asset management practices by supporting the development of strategic performance objectives for the highway system. It can also 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.

The successful transition of pavement management into these areas depends on the availability and accessibility of quality data to support an agency's decision processes. Unfortunately, there are a number of agencies that are currently not fully utilizing their pavement management system to support these types of decisions. Therefore, several immediate issues must be addressed to overcome these hurdles and to prepare pavement management for its broader role in the future. Some of the more immediate needs that might be considered are listed below:

  • Providing access to integrated, quality data: An effective pavement management system depends on reliable, accurate, and complete information. A number of issues arise in determining what information is needed to support pavement management decisions, how to collect the data most efficiently, and how to ensure the quality of the data collected. In addition, different data sources must be integrated so that stakeholders have access to the information most important to their decision processes.
  • Adapting existing analysis tools: Pavement management systems include analysis models that predict future pavement conditions so that the use of available funding can be optimized. Many agencies are struggling to develop reasonable performance prediction models and treatment rules that represent the full range of preservation and reconstruction treatments. In addition, the existing models do not consider the broad range of factors that agencies want to consider in selecting and prioritizing projects.
  • Communicating pavement management results: An effective pavement management system provides empirical information that demonstrates the consequences of different investment strategies and programming decisions. However, project selection processes do not always consider the results of a pavement management analysis. Strategies are needed to more effectively communicate pavement management results in ways that resonate with its users.
  • Integrating pavement management into the decision process: In the end, the degree to which pavement management can be considered successful is largely dependent on the amount of influence pavement management results have on agency decisions. Therefore, methods that strengthen the links between planning and programming, design, maintenance and operations, and other divisions through improved communication, more reliable data, and stronger analysis capabilities are required.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsored the development of a Pavement Management Roadmap to help identify the steps needed to address current gaps in pavement management and to establish research and development initiatives and priorities. This document presents a 10-year Pavement Management Roadmap that can be used to guide new research, development, and technology transfer opportunities that will lead to improved approaches to pavement management. This Roadmap can substantially improve current practices by identifying the existing gaps and needs in pavement management.

The final results of this project are presented in this report, which presents the prioritized list of research, development, and technology transfer opportunities recommended over the next 10 years. The report also documents the process undertaken to develop the Roadmap and the short- and long-term needs statements that were produced. The needs statements included as Appendix B describe the activities recommended as part of the Roadmap, and their associated costs. The needs statements can be used by the FHWA or other research agencies to secure funding to advance the Pavement Management Roadmap. The needs statements are organized by theme and by recommended timeframe (i.e., short-term and long-term).

In addition to this report, a separate Executive Summary was prepared. The Executive Summary is a concise summary of the Roadmap, providing a prioritized listing of the recommended short-term and long-term activities to advance pavement management.

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Updated: 06/18/2012