Pavement Management Systems Peer Exchange Program
In a 2006 survey of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Division Office personnel conducted by the FHWA's Office of Asset Management, 15 respondents indicated they were either in the process of upgrading or replacing their pavement management software or would be doing so within the next several years. The same survey found that a significant number of agencies were not fully utilizing their pavement management information to influence agency decisions. In light of today's increased competition for available funding and less institutional knowledge due to staffing cutbacks and retirements, the importance of effective pavement management practices can not be underestimated. Therefore, in 2008 the FHWA initiated a Pavement Management Peer Exchange Program to share information and experience on the effective use of pavement management practices among state highway agencies. This report documents the first two Peer Exchange meetings, which provided an opportunity for representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the FHWA to attend presentations conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). Experts from various disciplines within each agency were invited to participate in the meetings since the success of the pavement management program relies on their full support. The meetings were held February 4-5, 2008 in Maplewood, Minnesota and February 7-8, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The participants in the Peer Exchange are listed in table 1.
New York DOT
The Pavement Management Peer Exchange Program provides an opportunity for practitioners to share information about pavement management practices. It was designed to achieve two primary objectives. First, it provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and practices to take place among the participants. Although an agenda was provided for the meetings, no pavement management topic was considered off limits. The second objective was to share the lessons learned with other practitioners who were not able to attend the meetings. This report, and the technology transfer activities that will follow its production, were developed to meet this second objective.
Peer Exchange Approach
The two Peer Exchange sessions were each designed as 2-day meetings, with a series of presentations provided by the host agency. Each host agency provided an overview of its pavement management program, including detailed discussions about data collection and analysis activities. Additionally, the host agencies were asked to address the use of pavement management information to support decisions at the strategic, network, and project levels. Topics included the following:
- Supporting the project selection process using pavement management information.
- Using pavement management information to support planning activities, such as the development of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
- Implementing strategies for communicating pavement management information throughout the agency.
- Establishing and maintaining links with Maintenance and Operations.
- Using pavement management information to conduct engineering and economic analyses.
- Establishing feedback loops with actual performance data to improve pavement management models.
Each session ended with an open discussion in which the participants were invited to ask questions of the others. During this time, the participating agencies were able to ask specific questions about topics ranging from software procurement to system design. The open format for this portion of the meeting significantly contributed to the overall success of the Peer Exchange Program, since it provided an opportunity for the participating agencies to better sort out vendor claims from realistic accomplishments. In the end, the questions posed by the participating agencies were focused on determining the types of support a pavement management program could realistically provide and the best ways to meet that level of accomplishment. This report summarizes their findings.
The Peer Exchange Program is sponsored by the FHWA's Office of Asset Management. Mn/DOT and UDOT were selected as the host agencies primarily due to their strong reputation in the industry and the maturity of their pavement management practices. However, other factors, such as the diversity in traffic levels, the differences in pavement management software, and the commitment to pavement preservation, also played a role in their selection. Background information on each of the host agencies is provided. NYSDOT and Caltrans were chosen to participate in the Peer Exchange Program as other participating agencies based on their upcoming activities, which will significantly enhance their existing pavement management programs. Information on these other participants is also included.
Historically, pavement management decisions at Mn/DOT have primarily resided in the Districts with support provided by the central office. However, in recent years there has been more of an emphasis on the information provided by pavement management personnel in the central office, which has both raised the profile of pavement management in the agency and shifted the types of support provided by central office staff to the field offices. The importance of pavement management tools has increased in the wake of the 2007 I-35W bridge collapse, with the State's Office of the Legislative Auditor conducting a program review of Mn/DOT. The Mn/DOT Commissioner, who also serves as the Lieutenant Governor for the State, regularly receives updates and status reports from pavement management.
Mn/DOT is responsible for the maintenance of more than 30,000 lane miles on the state system. Pavement distress and roughness data have been collected on the state system since the late 1960s, and the DOT currently owns two data collection vans that are used to collect the information for both the State and County systems. To store its roadway information, Mn/DOT initially developed the Transportation Information System (TIS) as a mainframe database for use by the entire agency. In 1987, Mn/DOT implemented the HPMA pavement management software developed by Stantec. The software, which uses TIS as one of the primary sources of storing roadway inventory data, is used to analyze performance trends and to optimize the use of funding for long-range planning and budgeting activities. The Pavement Management Unit is located within the Office of Materials of the Engineering Services Division. In addition to the Pavement Management Engineer, there are four raters, a statistician, a technician, an engineering specialist to supervise the raters and process the data to/from the TIS, and a Preventive Maintenance Engineer available to assist with the data collection, analysis, and reporting of pavement management information.
UDOT was an early leader in promoting pavement management concepts by publishing the study Good Roads Cost Less in 1977 (UDOT-MR-77-8). While the tools used to manage its pavements have changed with time, UDOT continues to emphasize sound pavement management principles, including the use of preventive maintenance strategies for pavement preservation. UDOT currently uses the dTIMS CT software developed by Deighton and Associates to assist in managing 5825 centerline miles of interstate, arterial, and collector routes. Pavement management is housed with the Division of Asset Management within Systems Planning and Programming. Primary responsibilities include collecting and analyzing pavement condition data, forecasting future pavement conditions and needs, recommending treatment strategies to the Region offices, and recommending funding needs to upper level decision makers. UDOT is currently developing an asset management model, using dTIMS, to evaluate investment trade-offs for pavements, bridges, and safety needs. The Division is managed by a Director and staffed with two engineers and two data collection personnel.
In addition to the data collected by the central office personnel, Region Pavement Management Engineers are responsible for collecting pavement distress information. However, UDOT recently advertised for a contractor to automate the distress data collection activities, so the Asset Management Division is planning for the modifications to the existing procedures anticipated with this change.
Other Participating Agencies
Caltrans and the NYSDOT were selected as participating agencies by the FHWA since both agencies are in the process of acquiring new pavement management software. Caltrans is initiating wholesale changes to its pavement management practices. In addition to implementing new software, the agency is revising its data collection procedures to be more objective and plans to collect network-level structural information to support the analysis. The University of California at Berkeley is expected to be heavily involved in developing the analysis models and assisting Caltrans with the implementation and operation of its new software.
NYSDOT has utilized internally-developed software for its pavement management activities for many years. However, the Department is initiating the process of securing new pavement management software that provides both increased flexibility and improved optimization and prioritization capabilities. NYSDOT currently conducts its own data collection activities supplemented with contracted services, and plans to continue using these procedures after the new software is installed.
The timing of the Peer Exchange Program meetings provided a unique opportunity for each participating agency to move forward with their implementation plans with more confidence and with a better understanding of the possible implications of various implementation options they are considering.
Representatives from the FHWA's New York, California, Minnesota, and Utah Division Offices also participated in the meetings.
Peer Exchange Focus Areas
The topics covered during each of the two Peer Exchange meetings were presented earlier in this report. The range of topics was intended to illustrate the use of pavement management information to establish pavement preservation priorities and to support each agency's decision making process. In addition to presenting the traditional uses of pavement management information to support the identification and prioritization of pavement preservation needs, the host agencies were asked to spend some time addressing their expanded uses of pavement management information. This allowed the host agencies to illustrate how pavement management information is linked to long-term planning (in Minnesota), how pavement preservation programs are integrated with pavement management (in both Minnesota and Utah), and how pavement management is being formally aligned with an agency's asset management program (in Utah). Further information on these broadened uses of pavement management information is provided later in the report.
Special Interests of Participating Agencies
In addition to the formal topics discussed during the Peer Exchange sessions, the representatives from the NYSDOT and Caltrans provided additional topics for the host agencies to address. These additional topics were tailored to the specific needs of the participating agencies and focused primarily on the issues facing each agency at the time of the Peer Exchange Program meetings. For instance, the questions posed by the NYSDOT focused primarily on the procurement of software and the operation of the software within each host agency. These participants were interested in the procurement and implementation processes themselves, the resources needed to operate the software once it was in place, the amount of training and technical support provided by the vendors, and the use of the software in field offices.
Since Caltrans has already selected its pavement management software, their questions focused more on the use of pavement management to support funding requests and funding allocations. Specific questions were asked about the process for reporting funding needs to decision makers, the rigor of the "what if" scenarios used to defend funding requests, and the number of funding sources considered in the analysis by each agency. Additionally, since Caltrans is in the process of developing new pavement condition survey procedures, they asked the host states several questions about their data collection and quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) procedures.
Using the Report as a Guide to a Successful and Fully Utilized Pavement Management Program
This report was developed to transfer the information obtained during the Peer Exchange to practitioners in agencies that were not able to attend the meetings. Its contents can be used to learn more about the factors that have contributed to the success of the pavement management programs in Minnesota and Utah by summarizing their pavement management practices in the following areas:
- Developing procedures to obtain reliable pavement condition information (see the section on Data Collection Activities beginning on page 7).
- Strengthening the links with Maintenance and Operations (see the section on Links to Maintenance and Operations beginning on page 9).
- Implementing pavement management tools that support agency planning and programming decisions (see the section on Links to Planning and Programming Activities beginning on page 11).
- Using pavement management to support project and treatment selection decisions within Regional or District offices (see the section on Influence of Pavement Management on Project and Treatment Selection beginning on page 13).
- Using pavement management to support engineering and economic analyses (see the section on Engineering and Economic Analysis beginning on page 19).
- Linking pavement management to an agency's asset management practices (see the section on Links to Asset Management beginning on page 21).
- Using pavement management data to support other data needs (see the section on the Availability of Data to Support Other Needs beginning on page 21).
- Planning for the on-going support of a pavement management program (see the section on Support of Upper Management beginning on page 23, the section on Staffing and Other Resources beginning on page 23, and the section on Future Activities and Directions beginning on page 26).
- Finding keys to a successful pavement management implementation (see the section on Software Selection and Procurement beginning on page 24, the section on Institutional or Implementation Issues beginning on page 26, the section on Key Success Factors beginning on page 28, and the section on Benefits Realized beginning on page 31).
The report concludes with a summary of the benefits associated with the Peer Exchange and the FHWA's plans for future sessions.