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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > March 2003 > Pavement Preservation Training: How to Make the Most of Your Highway Investment
March 2003Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-015

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Pavement Preservation Training: How to Make the Most of Your Highway Investment

As transportation agencies across the country make decisions about spending limited highway dollars, they are looking for a high payoff in terms of maximizing resources and optimizing the return on their investment. With the Interstate system completed and much of the National Highway System exceeding its design service life, these decisions are increasingly focused on maintaining and preserving the Nation's $1 trillion dollar investment in existing highway infrastructure assets. To accomplish this goal, many agencies are now considering a wider range of actions to take to maintain and preserve their transportation infrastructure. In response to State and industry needs, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed a series of pavement preservation training courses to provide guidance in this area of asset management.

Two courses are currently being offered to highway agencies through FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI), while two more are expected to be available by this fall. The development and presentation of the courses has been supported by industry and the Foundation for Pavement Preservation. Pavement Preservation: The Preventive Maintenance Concept introduces the overall concepts of pavement preventive maintenance. Its target audience is highway agency decisionmakers, management, senior maintenance staff, and others who have the ability to create and fund department programs and initiatives. The course highlights components of a preventive maintenance program, provides an overview of treatments and techniques, and explores the use of life-cycle cost analyses to promote preventive maintenance. The course also makes extensive use of case study information collected from visits and interviews with five pavement preservation Lead States. Since November 2000, the course has been presented 32 times in 17 States. "The popularity of the course underscores a widespread interest in learning more about implementing or improving preventive maintenance practices at both the State and local level," says Jim Sorenson of FHWA.

A chip seal being placed on road in  North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Transportation places a chip seal, which is one of the pavement preservation practices covered in FHWA's new training courses.

"We have sent all engineering managers in the field at the division, district, and county levels to both courses," says Steve Varnedoe, State Maintenance and Equipment Engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. "These courses have been very effective in helping to bring about a cultural change in the organization regarding the value of pavement preservation. We believe getting buy in and an understanding of the concepts of pavement preservation at all levels of management is essential for an agency to sustain a pavement preservation program."

Selecting Pavements for Preventive Maintenance targets engineers and field supervisors who make decisions about which roads receive treatment and when. The course provides guidance on identifying when pavements are candidates for preventive maintenance, learning how to identify appropriate preventive maintenance treatments, and understanding all of the factors that need to be considered to select the most appropriate treatment. Also featured are hands-on exercises that test participants' abilities to identify appropriate candidate pavements for preventive maintenance, select feasible treatments, and analyze cost and performance data to identify the best treatments to use. Since November 2001, the course has been presented 24 times in 11 States.

The third course, Design and Construction of Quality Preventive Maintenance Treatments, is under development. "This course is probably the most eagerly anticipated among both agencies and contractors," says Sorenson. It targets those field personnel involved in constructing preventive maintenance treatments, such as agency inspectors and contractor foremen. The course includes modules on all of the different types of preventive maintenance treatments now in use, focusing on best practices for designing and constructing those treatments. It also addresses poor practices and their resulting impacts. As with the other courses, it is being developed by Applied Pavement Technology, Inc., in close collaboration with industry organizations and contractors. "They are providing their own training materials and storehouse of technical knowledge and experience to help ensure that the resultant training course is accurate and useful," says Sorenson.

The final course in the Pavement Preservation series, Pavement Preservation: Integrating Pavement Preservation Practices and Pavement Management, focuses on finding the common ground that needs to exist between preventive maintenance and pavement preservation practices and pavement management programs. Much of the responsibility for pavement preservation activities rests with an agency's maintenance division at the local or district level. Such activities mirror pavement management ones in many ways, but they often take place outside of the agency's pavement management framework. Not only may there be costly duplication of effort, but all of the benefits of preventive maintenance are not realized if it is not done in concert with pavement management.

The course addresses technical issues of integration, such as performance indicators, data collection, treatment selection, and software needs and capabilities, as well as the need to enhance interagency communication and agency organization. The course objectives also include:

  • Describing the characteristics and goals of a pavement management system (PMS), including the difference between network-and project-level decisions.

  • Demonstrating how preventive maintenance and other pavement preservation practices affect pavement performance and how these treatments should be incorporated into pavement management models

  • Describing how an enhanced or integrated PMS can be used to support asset management decisions by demonstrating the long-term cost effectiveness of preventive maintenance programs and how these programs can be used to achieve agency pavement condition goals.

To schedule the two courses currently available, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at NHI, 703-235-0528 (email: danielle.mathis-lee@fhwa.dot.gov). For more information about the Pavement Preservation course series, contact Ewa Rodzik at NHI, 703-235-0524 (email: ewa.rodzik@fhwa.dot.gov) or your local FHWA Division Office.

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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