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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-13-050    Date:  November 2013
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-050
Date: November 2013


Pavement Remaining Service Interval Implementation Guidelines


While the RSI concept provides an alternative to the long-standing and confusing RSL terminology, the outcomes from the RSI process can be used, presented, and communicated in the same fashion SHAs have been doing for years using RSL. The RSI concept does not provide an alternative to assessing the health of the network or making decisions about how to spend available funds. It simply provides a clear terminology and a logical process that will create a consistent construction event-based terminology and understanding (i.e., types of construction events and the timing of those events within the concept of LCC and/or other prioritization approaches based on streams of future construction events).

An added benefit of adapting the RSI terminology is that the methodology provides a readily available way to communicate impacts of alternate budget scenarios. If the streams of optimum future construction event sequences are stored in a database format that allows the use of automated tools to group similar construction events into categories for planning purposes, then the following information can be easily generated:

At the technical level (i.e., pavement engineers, managers, and technicians working at State transportation departments and local agencies as well as highway contractors), the new RSI terminology should not be difficult to understand nor should the RSI implementation steps. The biggest challenge will be for engineers to substitute a term they have been using often for most of their careers (RSL) with a new one (RSI). While a challenge, it is simply a matter of time before the new terminology replaces the old one, especially given the simplicity and logic of the new terminology.

At the upper management level (i.e., chief engineers of State and local agencies and Federal, State, and local government decisionmakers), two possible scenarios exist. One scenario includes managers who are not aware of the RSL concept. As a result, the new RSI concept is of little consequence to them; they are mostly interested in budgets and other political considerations. The other scenario includes decisionmakers who are aware of and have been using the RSL concept. Regardless of the scenario, the fact is that people must determine which projects will be funded and when.

Perhaps the most important message to convey to decisionmakers is that pavements are repairable systems - the life of the system is not defined by failure of a few components. As such, the use of remaining life is not only confusing but also inappropriate. Material developed to convey this message needs to be short, to the point, and focused. The objective is to provide decisionmakers with easily understood information that reduces potential for misinterpretation, provides a rational basis to assess current status, and promotes better decisions.

In summary, adopting the RSI concept should not significantly affect the day-to-day operations once the shift in terminology is accomplished. Most or all of the RSI implementation steps should already be in place at most SHAs.

Other than the change in terminology, reporting and communicating the outcomes from these steps should not be affected by the RSI concept (e.g., practitioners will need to know current and future conditions and perform LCC analyses to identify lowest cost strategies, while decisionmakers will need to know what budget is required to maintain the network at or above a minimum level).