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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January 1999

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Date: January 1999

Mapping the Road to Pavement Preservation

With the Nation's highway system essentially complete, highway agencies must take up the challenge of keeping existing pavements in top condition. "We need to shift our focus and communicate the need for changing our traditional philosophy to one that focuses on maintaining and preserving-rather than expanding and upgrading-our existing highway system," says Jim Sorenson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

State and local highway agencies will need new tools to make this shift to pavement preservation, including a battery of pavement maintenance strategies and dedicated funding commitments. For example, they will need procedures for collecting and managing data on the condition of their pavements before they exhibit conventional distresses. To determine what tools are needed and the best ways to get these tools to users, more than 100 preventive maintenance experts from highway agencies, industry, academia, and FHWA gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, in October for the "Forum for the Future."

Participants represented a range of organizations involved in preventive maintenance, including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and its Lead States teams, the National Association of County Engineers, the American Public Works Association, FHWA, universities, and staff from a number of highway agencies, including Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Industry was represented by contractors and suppliers and by the Foundation for Pavement Rehabilitation and Maintenance Research, the American Concrete Pavement Association, and other organizations.

Forum participants focused on six areas: local government, management, training, data management, research, and marketing. For each area, participants developed specific recommendations for research, field test and evaluation projects, training, and policy improvements. This was the first time stakeholders had met to map out the priorities and strategies for enhanced system preservation.

Speaking at the forum, Wouter Gulden, of the Georgia Department of Transportation and a member of the AASHTO Lead States Team for Pavement Preservation, summarized why pavement preservation is important: "The public wants us to focus on keeping roads smooth, reducing user delays from maintenance activities, and reducing accident rates related to work zones and pavement conditions."

The results of the forum will be published as Road Map to the Future: Pavement Preservation. This publication, which will be available next month from FHWA, will identify what steps highway agencies, industry, and others should consider in addressing the needs facing preventive maintenance practitioners.

For more information, contact Jim Sorenson at FHWA (phone: 202-366-1333; fax: 202-366-9981; email: james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov). To request a copy of Road Map to the Future: Pavement Preservation (Publication No. FHWA-SA-99-015), contact FHWA's Research and Technology Report Center (phone: 301-577-0906; fax: 301-577-1421).

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