|FHWA > Engineering > Construction > Quality > FHWA-HIF-07-012 > Asset Management: Working for You|
Highway Quality Compendium
Asset Management: Working for You
by Dave Geiger
Making asset management work in your organization: the theme of the recent Sixth National Conference on Transportation Asset Management is also the continuing goal of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Asset Management. As demonstrated at the November 2005 conference, asset management is working for an ever growing number of States, cities, and counties, both large and small. For example, in Washington, DC, the first tunnel management system designed for nationwide use is providing the city with a valuable tool for the future monitoring of the condition and performance of its highway tunnels (see May 2005 Focus). In Hillsborough County, Florida, a comprehensive asset management system for roadway and stormwater infrastructure has allowed the Public Works Department to target money more efficiently and better anticipate and respond to damage caused by hurricanes. And in States such as Kentucky, New Mexico, and New Jersey, FHWA's new Pavement Preservation Technical Assistance Program is partnering with their highway agencies to develop, expand, or improve pavement preservation programs to enhance the performance and extend the life of this critical asset.
Asset management is a strategic approach to allocating resources-dollars, people, and data-for the preservation, operation, and management of the Nation's transportation infrastructure. Through the use of management systems, engineering and economic analysis, and other tools, transportation agencies can more comprehensively view the big picture before making decisions as to how specific resources should be deployed. By strategically allocating resources, agencies can maximize the return on their investment, improve system performance, and increase customer satisfaction.
With asset management techniques and strategies becoming more visible and accepted nationwide, FHWA's Office of Asset Management continues its strong commitment to providing the training, tools, and deployment assistance needed to build on the progress made and continue advancing implementation efforts. The substantial progress to date means that every day, agencies are realizing improvements in safety, operations, system reliability, system condition, and financial performance. Over the past 2 years, for example, more than half of States have realized the benefits of accelerated highway construction by participating in the Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) program. At 3-day ACTT workshops, participants identify innovative approaches to reducing time, costs, and congestion for a planned highway project while improving safety, quality, and roadway performance. Most ACTT workshops have resulted in a reduction of planned construction time by 30 percent or more, with millions of dollars and years of delays shaved off of highway projects.
To help all of our State and local partners realize the benefits of asset management, we offer training and workshop opportunities that range from introducing asset management to highlighting specific asset management tools. A 1-day course available from FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI), Transportation Asset Management, covers the principles, techniques, and benefits of asset management. Meanwhile, maintaining and preserving the Nation's $1.75 trillion investment in existing highway infrastructure assets is the focus of a series of four NHI courses on pavement preservation (see sidebar). When using asset management techniques to identify and evaluate resource allocation options, preservation is one of the most important considerations. Following a preventive maintenance strategy rather than waiting for roads to deteriorate before fixing them can extend the useful life of a pavement at a lower life-cycle cost than that of conventional pavement rehabilitation or reconstruction. The NHI workshops cover everything from selecting pavements for preventive maintenance to the different types of preventive maintenance treatments now available.
Training opportunities also include FHWA workshops on the Highway Economics Requirements System-State Version (HERS-ST) software program, life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA), and a new Web-Based Benefit/Cost Analysis Tool. The HERS-ST workshop provides a hands-on demonstration of the software, which is an asset management tool that can be used to analyze highway needs for programming and planning purposes. In the LCCA workshop, participants are introduced to LCCA concepts and the software program RealCost. The Web-Based Benefit/Cost Analysis Tool workshop introduces FHWA's tool for the application of benefit/cost analysis to a variety of roadway and intersection projects. All of the workshops are offered at no cost.
The Office of Asset Management also has case studies available that highlight highway agencies that are leading the way in implementing asset management programs. Economics in Asset Management details the experiences of Hillsborough County, Florida, in implementing a comprehensive asset management program for its roadway and stormwater infrastructure. The new approach includes all of the forecasting elements necessary to do multiyear budgeting of maintenance, operations, and capital replacement of assets as needed. Bridge Management, meanwhile, highlights how California, Florida, and South Dakota are using the Pontis® bridge management system to more efficiently manage and maintain their bridges and achieve their agencies' performance goals. Case studies on Data Integration experiences in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are also available.
Looking at 2006 and beyond, FHWA will continue to develop new tools, technologies, and deployment strategies. As many State and local agencies are now active in implementing asset management in their day-to-day activities, FHWA will be promoting the further development of management tools, analysis methods, and research topics, including economic evaluation and trade off methodologies. It is important to consider strategies that emphasize communication and the sharing of information with policy and technical decisionmakers, as well as elected officials, on the benefits of applying asset management principles and techniques from the planning and initial goal setting process through the operations, preservation, and maintenance stages.
One of the new tools being developed is the rolling wheel deflectometer, which is a specially designed tractor-trailer that can measure pavement deflections while traveling at speeds up to 100 km/hr (70 mi/hr).
Also under development is a new workshop on data integration, which is designed to help highway agencies consolidate their electronic data so that they can make better and more cost-effective decisions about managing their assets. Better managing data is also the goal of an ongoing effort to update the Pontis software program, which can be used by highway agencies to organize their bridge data and analyze complex engineering and economic factors.
We will continue to work with State and highway industry leaders through the National Partnership for Highway Quality to encourage the use of quality practices in highway planning, design, construction, and management to achieve the best value for our customers.
While the tools of asset management include data, software, and other state-of-the-art technologies, our ultimate focus is the driving public that we serve. Whether establishing bridge management systems to better analyze and use the data that we have or using accelerated construction techniques to complete needed highway projects faster and with less inconvenience to motorists, asset management is about using our resources more effectively to improve the driving experience and quality of life for our customers and our communities. Making asset management work in our organizations ultimately provides increased benefits to all of us.
Dave Geiger is the Director of FHWA's Office of Asset Management.
Reprinted from Focus, December 2005.