The funding situation for transportation agencies is not expected to improve in the next several years, forcing agencies to clearly identify investment priorities. As a result, many transportation agencies have instated or are considering asset management as a strategic approach for managing their highway infrastructure. Some of these agencies are taking actions that are directly related to asset management principles, such as shifting funds away from large expansion projects and focusing available funding on the preservation of existing assets. The implementation of costeffective strategies, such as the use of preventive maintenance treatments on roads and highways in good condition, are becoming increasingly important to make the best use of the available funds by slowing down the rate of pavement deterioration and postponing the need for more costly improvements.
The key to successfully navigating this type of economic climate is the availability of reliable asset condition information and economic analysis tools that can quickly simulate the consequences associated with different investment strategies. A number of state highway agencies rely on their pavement management programs to provide this information to support the agency's decisions about pavement-related investments.
In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Asset Management initiated a Peer Exchange Program to promote the effective use of Pavement Management Systems (PMS) in general and more informed decision making in particular. The first two Peer Exchange meetings allowed representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to meet with pavement management practitioners in Minnesota and Utah to learn more about the use of their pavement management program to support investment decisions and to influence project and treatment selection. Through the Peer Exchange meetings, which were held early in February, representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) presented information explaining how pavement management tools are being used to:
This report summarizes the use of pavement management tools to support agency decisions in UDOT and Mn/DOT, provides tips for procuring new pavement management software, and identifies institutional issues that must be addressed to make the most of a pavement management program. It closes with a summary of the key factors influencing the successful pavement management practices in UDOT and Mn/DOT, which include the following considerations.
The strong pavement management programs in each of the host agencies have resulted in improvements in the quality of information used to make investment decisions. Both Mn/DOT and UDOT have been able to use their pavement management information to effectively revise investment priorities during periods in which competition for available funding has increased. As a result, both agencies have established strategic plans that increase the emphasis on system preservation and align their project and treatment selection process in accordance with those plans.
As the Peer Exchange meetings demonstrated, strong pavement management programs can benefit transportation agencies tremendously. The information provided during the meetings, which is documented in this report, provides valuable insight into the practices of the participating transportation agencies and the factors that have contributed most to their success. The information is provided so that other agencies can benefit from the experience and develop strategies that enhance their own pavement management practices.