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Pavement Preservation Compendium

Protecting Our National Investment in Pavements
by Larry Orcutt and Jim Sorenson

"Keeping good roads good" is the driving goal of pavement preservation efforts being carried out by highway agencies across the country. These efforts, as well as what the future holds for preservation programs, will be highlighted at the upcoming National Pavement Preservation Forum II. Scheduled for November 6-8, 2001, in San Diego, CA, the Forum's theme is "Protecting Our Investment." This theme will be explored in general sessions covering such topics as pavement preservation goals, best practices, and achieving customer satisfaction. Participants can also choose from nine breakout sessions on subjects ranging from how to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of pavement treatments to introducing new products and techniques to highway agencies.

Breakout sessions will also highlight innovative contracts, asset management, and tips for stretching funding dollars. A special session on "Toolboxes for Treatments" will provide an overview of pavement management treatments that are successfully being used in State pavement preservation programs.

The conference, which is being sponsored by the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, California Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Federal Highway Administration, will continue the work begun at the 1998 Forum for the Future. Held in Kansas City, MO, that event drew 120 participants from 32 States and Canada.

Pavement preservation involves the timely application of carefully selected surface treatments to maintain or extend a pavement's service life. An effective pavement preservation program includes the use of a range of preventive maintenance techniques and strategies, such as fog seals, slurry seals, thin lift overlays, crack sealing, and surface recycling for flexible pavements. Similar treatments for concrete roadways include crack and joint sealing, retrofit dowel bars, partial depth repairs, and diamond grinding. These treatments reduce the amount of water infiltrating the pavement structure, slow the rate of deterioration, or correct surface deficiencies such as roughness. Unlike routine maintenance, which is usually performed when the pavement is failing, preventive maintenance treatments must be applied when the pavement is still in good condition, with no structural damage. It is estimated that the use of preservation treatments can extend the life of a structurally sound pavement by 5 to 10 years.

One highway agency that has made a Statewide commitment to pavement preservation is the Ohio DOT. The agency issued new Pavement Preventive Maintenance Guidelines this year and provided training on the guidelines to each of its Districts and Counties. Showcased in the guidelines are the available pavement preventive maintenance treatments that have been approved for use by current State specifications. The treatments include crack sealing, chip seals, microsurfacing, concrete pavement restoration, and drainage preservation. For each treatment available, the guidelines discuss:

  • Description and Purpose
  • Pavement Condition Considerations
  • Traffic Constraints
  • Design Considerations
  • Seasonal Construction Limitations
  • Unit Cost for Estimating
  • Anticipated Performance and Service

Ohio has found that the major benefits of preventive maintenance include increased customer satisfaction, improved pavement condition and ride quality, safer roads, and lower life-cycle costs. The benefits also include reduced congestion and more cost-effective use of funds. You can find Ohio's Pavement Preventive Maintenance Guidelines on the Web at www.dot.state.oh.us/pavement/publications.htm. For more information, contact Aric Morse at Ohio DOT, 614-995-5994 (email: aric.morse@dot.state.oh.us).

Michigan, meanwhile, has set specific goals aimed at "keeping good roads good" through the use of preventive maintenance. The DOT has set a target of having 95 percent of its expressways and 85 percent of its non-expressways in fair to good condition by 2007. Michigan has found that rehabilitation and reconstruction projects cost about 10-14 times as much as preventive maintenance projects per lane mile. The DOT estimates that it has saved more than $700 million since 1992 by implementing a preventive maintenance program.

Preventive maintenance also continues to be a top priority in California, where the Golden State is spending nearly $1 billion this year alone to keep the Nation's most heavily traveled highway system in working order. That effort is paying big dividends for California, where the number of lane miles in need of repair is at its lowest level in nearly 10 years.

The California Department of Transportation has dedicated $250 million to fund a series of preventive maintenance strategies, nonconventional asphalt concrete (AC) treatments, and pavement warranties. The strategies and treatments include using rubberized asphalt, microsurfacing, rubberized chip seals, polymer modified asphalt and emulsion, and recycled AC. Pilot projects have been selected for 1-year warranty programs, and warranty evaluation and design guides have been developed. The intent of the warranty is to guarantee the pavement's service life and prevent typical failures that may occur in the first year after construction. The result is a smoother riding, more durable pavement that requires less maintenance, resulting in less disruption to the traveling public.

For more information on the National Pavement Preservation Forum II or to register, contact the Foundation for Pavement Preservation at 703-533-0251. You can also download a registration form and preliminary program from the Web at www.fp2.org/.

Larry Orcutt* is chief, division of maintenance at the California Department of Transportation. He can be reached at 916-654-5849 (email: larry_orcutt@dot.ca.gov). Jim Sorenson* is the Team Leader for the Construction and System Preservation Team in the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Asset Management. He can be reached at 202-366-1333 (fax: 202-366-9981; email: james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov).

*Reprinted from Roads & Bridges, October 2001.

March 2005 Update: The contact at FHWA's Office of Asset Management is Tom Deddens, 202-366-1557, email: tom.deddens@fhwa.dot.gov

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Updated: 04/07/2011
 

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