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National Pavement Preservation Partnerships

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Transportation Agencies, Universities, and Industry Groups Initiate National Pavement Preservation Partnerships

Traditionally, highway agencies have allowed the ride characteristics and structural condition of their pavements to deteriorate to fair or poor condition before taking action to rehabilitate or reconstruct their pavements. The primary objective of rehabilitation work is to repair structural damage and restore pavement conditions such as ride, rutting, and cracking. This is a very costly and time-consuming activity that contributes significantly to traffic congestion and imposes economic and social impacts on adjacent businesses and residences.

The Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, and most industry partners define pavement preservation as follows:

"A program employing a network level, long-term strategy that enhances pavement performance by using an integrated, cost-effective set of practices that extend pavement life, improve safety, and meet motorist expectations."

The concept of pavement preservation has long been recognized as a proactive approach in maintaining existing highway systems. Using timely preservation practices has proven to provide the traveling public with improved safety and mobility, reduced congestion, and smoother, longer lasting pavements. More and more highway agencies are beginning to recognize the economic and social benefits of a pavement preservation program.

The important thing to remember is that pavement preservation is not about maintenance as usual!

A pavement preservation program consists primarily of three components: preventive maintenance, minor (nonstructural) rehabilitation, and routine maintenance activities. Each of these components provides a number of treatments or practices geared towards preserving the existing pavement.

An effective pavement preservation program will benefit highway agencies by preserving and stretching the investment in their roadways, optimizing pavement performance, extending pavement life, reducing user delays (congestion), and providing improved motorist safety.

Components of Pavement Preservation.  The organizational chart shows Pavement Preservation at the top level, and three components below it: Minor Rehabilitation; Preventive Maintenance; and Routine Maintenance.

Today, highway agencies face a common hurdle. Dwindling financial resources, increasing infrastructure demands and a shrinking workforce provide a tremendous challenge. Highway agencies realize they must interact across State and regional boundaries, pool their financial resources, identify common issues, develop solutions, and embark on a systematic approach to implementing preservation principles. The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) transportation pooled fund program can provide the mechanism for highway agencies to achieve their goals.

Regional Groups Address Pavement Preservation Needs

The recognition by highway agencies that pooling resources is the logical way to address pavement preservation needs has lead to the formation of several regional groups. In the spring of 2001, the Midwestern Pavement Preservation Partnership (MP3) was formed. This group consists of many Midwestern State transportation agencies, universities, and industry groups. Its purpose is to provide an ongoing regional forum to discuss preservation principles, and to share improvements in design, construction, and maintenance practices, as well as to identify research and specification needs. Since MP3 was established, other regional efforts have begun to gain momentum.

In the fall of 2004, the Northeast Pavement Preservation Partnership was formed with essentially the same purpose as the MP3. To date, similar movements are now underway in the southern and the western parts of the Nation; they are known as the Pavement Preservation Technology Transfer Among Southeast States and the Western Pavement Preservation Partnership, respectively, and have similar goals.

The intent for each regional group is not only for its member highway agencies to partner among their respective member highway agencies but also to enlist the participation and technical capabilities of the contracting industry as well as academia.

Regional Groups Utilize the FHWA's Pooled Fund Process

Pooled Fund Objectives

  1. Promote regional guidelines for pavement preservation treatments that provide consistency, reduce costs, and foster better practices.
  2. Promote the use of improved materials, equipment, and processes among the member agencies by determining what works best and by sharing successes.
  3. Implement a comprehensive information-sharing process by discussing successes and failures and developing an interactive question-and-answer clearinghouse on the National Center for Pavement Preservation Web site.
  4. Establish a coordinated regional research effort by promptly addressing common research needs. Members would determine the regional research priorities by vote and could then use the research results to support policy changes by their respective leaderships.
  5. Advocate policies that integrate system preservation activities by providing information supporting the use of pavement preservation, implementing pavement management system strategies to improve network conditions, and changing from a "worst first" policy to prevention.
  6. Publicize pavement preservation findings at the national level by documenting successes and research studies, presenting benefits of pavement preservation at national meetings, and preparing articles for publication.
  7. Advocate a common terminology, complete with definitions, to ensure consistency in the transfer of information.

The regional groups are planning to utilize FHWA's pooled fund concept to address their needs. The advantages to this are as follows:

Reduction of Duplicate Effort. States should have uniform or consistent specifications, performance standards, training, and certification requirements. Both the FHWA and the States are losing experienced staff through retirements and attrition, but by partnering with industry and other agencies they can still find the expertise necessary to successfully accomplish their work.

Partnering to Exchange Ideas. Materials and techniques may not be universally applicable, but collaboration in partnership is an effective way to learn what works for others, to identify innovation, and to implement new technologies.

Partnering to Accelerate Implementation of Preservation Programs. Utilizing peer exchange among highway agencies to identify common research and development and training needs is a must in order to facilitate program implementation. Shared goals mean shared expenses.

Pavement Preservation Partnerships Plan Innovative Approach to Pooled Fund Concept

Traditionally, States and the FHWA have found the pooled fund concept to be the most cost-effective way of seeking solutions to common issues. The various pavement preservation partnerships plan to use this concept with some changes to the traditional mechanism. The MP3's Lead State (Michigan DOT), through its existing agreement with the NCPP, will administer the overall administrative activities of the regional partnerships, treating them as a single pooled fund effort. However, each regional partnership will also have one designated regional Lead State. This State would be responsible for all technical coordination among its regional partnership members. The Lead State would also be responsible for technical and administrative coordination between the group and the MP3 national Lead State.

The MP3 group is already underway; it has posted its pooled fund study solicitation on the Transportation Pooled Fund Program Web site.

The southern and western groups have also posted a solicitation on the Web. The northeastern group has a solicitation ready to go and is expected to post it soon.

For more information, contact:

Joe Huerta
Pavement Management Engineer

Pavement and Materials Technical Service Team
FHWA Resource Center
(410) 962-2298

Steve Mueller
Pavement and Materials Engineer

Pavement and Materials Technical Service Team
FHWA Resource Center
(720) 963-3213

Luis Rodriguez
Pavement Management Engineer

Pavement and Materials Technical Service Team
FHWA Resource Center
(404) 562-3681


New Course Flyers Available From National Highway Institute

The National Highway Institute (NHI) is now preparing and distributing a "Blueline" for each new and updated course. The NHI Blueline is a one-page flyer describing the course, learning outcomes, target audience, price, and points of contact. These flyers are e-mailed to NHI local coordinators, FHWA training coordinators, assistant division administrators, Resource Center technical service teams, Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs, the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Bluelines are also available upon request for use at events and conferences.

E-mail kevin.monaghan@fhwa.dot.gov with any requests for Bluelines.

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