Today, Transportation Asset Management is widely understood and accepted among transportation agencies. While, in the early 1990s, new legislative and reporting requirements gave impetus to the adoption of asset management practices, today the widely demonstrated benefits of asset management in transportation decisionmaking encourage its adoption.
The challenges to transportation agencies that grew during the 1990s continue to intensify: high user demand, stretched budgets, declining staff resources, increasing complexity, more stringent accountability requirements, rapid technological change, and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure. Transportation Asset Management is the key to finding the most effective and cost-efficient balance of preserving, upgrading, and replacing highway assets in this environment.
Most State highway agencies have some of the elements that provide information to the asset management process, most often pavement and bridge management systems that monitor conditions, measure performance, predict trends, and recommend candidate projects and preservation treatments. Many States now are also using analytical tools to compare the relative merits-and risks-of alternative policies, programs, and projects. Local governments too have found that using asset management helps them be better stewards of the infrastructure they own. However, there is a long way to go.
What lies ahead? As more State and local agencies adopt asset management, others are refining successful programs. For agencies with maturing systems, the next challenges are to broaden their asset management systems and increase their integration of missions, resources, and organizations:
FHWA, with its public and private partners, will continue to promote Transportation Asset Management and to support research, the identification of best practices, and the development of analytical tools, as well as the provision of technical assistance, education programs, and peer exchanges. The agency's ultimate goal is to make the use of asset management the norm across the Nation for long-range transportation planning, capital program development, strategic business planning, and performance accountability.