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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-073
Date: October 2005

Roadway Safety Hardware Asset Management Systems Case Studies

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CHAPTER 3. CONCLUSIONS

The majority of states, 42 of the 50 surveyed in 2000, indicated they use an asset management system to track their roadway safety hardware; however, for most of those states, the systems entail manual data collection and unintegrated databases. Although the readily available information about roadside assets and the coherent processes for sharing information that are characteristic of an integrated asset management system result in significantly increased effectiveness of State maintenance expenditures, most State DOTs contacted for this report cite fiscal constraints as the primary reason for their inability to upgrade current systems

The implementation of both stand alone and integrated asset management systems often results in an extension of the service life of equipment and increased available funding for maintenance and repairs to State-maintained roadside assets. This type of preventive maintenance tends to not only reduce lifecycle costs, but also improve travel conditions, equipment reliability, and public safety. Indeed, assets such as warning and regulatory signs, edge lining, signals, and roadway lighting have virtually no other purpose than fostering and enhancing highway safety.

In addition to a more efficient use of maintenance funds and improved information management, a number of benefits accrue to States that implement an asset management system:

  • A well-maintained collection of safety hardware equipment.
  • Improved ability to make pragmatic and cost-effective resource allocation decisions based on complete and accurate information.
  • Reduced acquisition, upgrade, and replacement costs for assets.
  • Improved management and oversight capabilities.
  • Decreased State legal liability that could result from inadequate or faulty safety hardware.

Until fairly recently, a widespread institutional bias has existed among legislators and State DOTs that tends to favor funding new construction and capacity expansion over operations, maintenance, and management of existing facilities. The advent over the past decade or so of the application of asset management principles, particularly with respect to major asset categories such as pavements and bridges, has resulted in a growing trend toward establishing effective preventive maintenance and replacement systems. These systems, in turn, have contributed to a growing culture of extending the useful life of existing safety hardware, thereby decreasing replacement costs.

Asset management may entail a life-cycle cost analysis (that is, taking into account total costs over each asset’s operating life) during planning and procurement. This analysis enables the selection of options with the lowest overall long-term costs based on a rational assessment of fact-based scenarios.

At the time of this publication, a number of States were proceeding with initial development of safety hardware asset management systems, and some were working to integrate their current systems with other asset management systems and data sets. A growing number of states are investing considerable effort and resources in more comprehensive and sophisticated approaches to hardware asset management systems, an endeavor that clearly lends itself to cooperative multistate development efforts through such mechanisms as AASHTO and the regional State DOT associations.

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