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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > June 2000 > The Right Road at the Right Time: Video Offers Keys to Preventive Maintenance Success
June 2000Publication Number: FHWA-RD-00-059

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The Right Road at the Right Time: Video Offers Keys to Preventive Maintenance Success

For highway agencies, times are changing. "It's no longer about constructing roads," says Jim Sorenson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). "It's about preserving and maintaining the existing roads." And for an increasing number of States, preserving those roads means using preventive maintenance techniques. Instead of waiting until a road has significantly deteriorated before rehabilitating it, preventive maintenance involves applying carefully timed, cost-effective treatments to roads experiencing only light to moderate distress. These treatments help retard pavement deterioration, improve the function/condition of the highway system, and can extend the life of a structurally sound pavement by 5 to 10 years.

In order to assist highway agency managers in using preventive maintenance techniques, FHWA, the Foundation for Pavement Preservation, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Lead States Team for Pavement Preservation have prepared a new videotape, Preventive Maintenance: Project Selection. The video is a follow-up to an earlier FHWA release, Protecting Our Pavements: PREVENTIVE Maintenance, which was aimed at upper-level management. The new video is geared more toward the maintenance supervisors and program managers who make the daily decisions to implement various preventive maintenance treatments.

The video takes an in-depth look at the project selection process, highlighting the key factors for achieving optimum results with preventive maintenance. It recommends that highway agencies take the following steps:

  • Select the right road-Evaluate road conditions in order to determine which roads are good candidates for preventive maintenance. In evaluating a road, an agency should measure such factors as distress (cracking), ride quality (roughness), pavement deformation or faulting, and friction. An agency should also look at climate/environmental conditions and whether the road has a high or low volume of traffic. The best candidates for preventive maintenance are roads that are still structurally sound and are experiencing a slow to normal rate of deterioration
  • Select the right treatment-Agencies need to be familiar with a number of treatments and applications, such as crack and joint sealing, surface seals (including chip seals, slurry seals, and micro-surfacing), and overlays, in order to apply the right preventive maintenance technique to the right roads.
  • Act quickly-There is usually only a brief window of time during which preventive maintenance treatments can be applied and be cost-effective and worthwhile. Agencies must identify what needs to be done at a site and turn the job around quickly.
Between 1992 and 1996, preventive maintenance treatments, such as the chip sealing shown here, saved Michigan DOT an estimated $700 million.
Between 1992 and 1996, preventive maintenance treatments, such as the chip sealing shown here, saved Michigan DOT an estimated $700 million.

"Preventive maintenance is now an integral part of Michigan's highway program," says Larry Galehouse of the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT), who is featured in the video. "We will never go back to not doing it." Between 1992 and 1996, preventive maintenance treatments saved Michigan an estimated $700 million.

To obtain a copy of the video, contact your local FHWA division office or the Foundation for Pavement Preservation at 517-381-0549.

Copies can also be obtained from the International Slurry Surfacing Association, Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association, and Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association. These organizations can be reached at 410-267-0023 (fax: 410-267-7546; email: krissoff@toad.net.) For more information on the video, contact Jim Sorenson at FHWA, 202-366-1333 (fax: 202-366-9981; email: james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov), or Larry Galehouse at the National Center for Pavement Preservation: 517-432-8220 (Fax: 517-432-8223; E-mail: ncpp@egr.msu.edu)

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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