You probably never imagined how many lives could be saved by simple pavement renewal efforts. In October, 2014 the Federal Highways Administration and U.S Department of Transportation released the results of a 10-year study on fatal car crashing in the United States. A gut wrenching 371,104 fatal crashes occurred in the U.S from 2000-2009. (FHWA, 2014) The report identifies 12.6% of these fatal accidents occurred on wet pavement. The FHWA then asserts a shocking recognition; 70% of these fatal accidents could have been prevented or minimized by simply improving pavement surface friction. That’s 32,730 lives that could have been saved by inexpensive and easily identifiable pavement rehabilitation efforts.
The most commonly deferred roads are those that display only surface distresses, such as raveling (loose pavement material on the surface) or bleeding (excess asphalt binder on the pavement surface). Although these distresses do not reflect an imminent failure of the pavement base, they do reduce tire traction and increase the possibility of a vehicle skidding.
Thankfully there are some easily implemented solutions that can alleviate these concerns and make your roads a safer place to drive.
What never moves and has no feet, but frequently wears shoes, sandals and boots? Sidewalks are one of the most utilized city assets, and yet, simultaneously they remain one of the most neglected. In our 30 years of surveying infrastructure assets in cities across North America, we can say with confidence that the majority of municipalities are struggling with sidewalk compliance and repair backlogs that remain largely underfunded.
Sidewalks can increase public safety, encourage healthy outdoor activity, and even promote economic well-being in low-income communities. On the other hand, when improperly managed, sidewalks can be a tremendous financial drain on a city’s budget. Pedestrians seldom hesitate to file personal injury lawsuits against cities that fail to maintain their sidewalks. There is also the issue of ADA compliance looming over every sidewalk construction project. In addition to managing a backlog of repair projects, settling lawsuits can undermine a municipality’s budget. With this in mind, here are 5 useful tips that will ensure you maintain a happy and healthy pedestrian community:
Some distressed roads need to be fixed right away, some don’t. If you are in charge of a municipality’s pavement management decisions then you have probably been faced with the difficult decision about how to optimize the spending of a limited budget. To navigate those situations with expertise you must be aware of the deferment cost.
In pavement management, road segments are assigned a score depending on their overall quality; this is known as a PCI, or Pavement Condition Index. Depending on the PCI score of a street, pavement management software will recommend a suggested rehab treatment and factor in the average cost. There are a variety of rehab categories to be aware of, all varying in cost depending on the functional classification of the roads in question.
Over 12,000 ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards are used around the globe, standardizing work in engineering, manufacturing and many other fields. The standards created by ASTM cover everything from construction standards and sustainable design to chemical research and environmental safety. ASTM standard use is ubiquitous across a wide variety of industries, but where do these standards come from?
Preservation of existing roads and street systems has become a major activity for all levels of government. Because municipalities must consistently optimize the spending of their budgets, funds that have been designated for pavement need to be used as effectively as possible. The best method to obtain the maximum value of available funds is through the use of a pavement management system.
A pavement management system is a computerized database that is linked to GIS and contains every individual pavement segment throughout a network. Since it is cost-prohibitive to completely repair every road in a network in one year, a pavement management system should be configured to adequately age particular segments in accordance with their condition analysis (i.e., roads with a weak base deteriorate quicker). A pavement management system is highly recommended to organize ongoing rehabilitation activities because it is common for a network to contain thousands of road segments.
All around the country municipalities are faced with a difficult question.
“How can we provide the best possible service to our community with the limited budget we have?”
When it comes to the pavement network of your city, it should be seen as the most valuable visible asset that the city maintains. Because these assets are constantly under heavy use, municipalities must always be coming up with new strategies and methods for maintaining them. In some cases, street maintenance can be deferred without significantly increasing the future costs associated with needed repairs. In other cases, deferring a street can result in a tremendous increase to the cost of repairs. In pavement management, this concept is referred to as, “equity removal”. Without a sufficient grasp of this important concept, cities risk losing millions of dollars in value from their pavement network.
Traffic signals, street markings, and right-of-way signage dictate the flow of traffic for millions of people. It is easy to take these traffic guides for granted, forgetting that every sign, every traffic signal and every pavement marking must be maintained by the city. There are thousands of these right-of-way assets scattered throughout a city, and keeping track of them can be a challenge.
Government accountability standards such as GASB 34 require municipalities to act as good stewards in maintaining public assets. This includes any right-of-way asset owned by the city. As a matter of fact, the FHWA suggests that a missing or damaged regulatory sign, such as a stop or one way sign, should be replaced or repaired within hours of discovery. The date and time of the notification, as well as the date and time of the repair activity should also be properly documented. So, how do city’s organize and track this type of vital reporting information?
The pavement network is the most valuable visible asset that the city maintains. Even smaller networks are usually valued at close to $100 million. If you are tasked with maintaining such a valuable asset on a dwindling budget, you better make the most out of your investments.
When a municipality is creating a budget plan to allocate millions of dollars to the pavement network, it is considered proper due diligence to base this plan on the most accurate, objective assessment of the network’s condition and need. Reporting of this assessment also falls under statement 34 of The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
Acknowledging that completing a pavement survey is necessary, and recognizing the ways in which it will save your city money are different things, however. Below are three ways in which a pavement survey will help your city instantly save money.
A variety of factors go into determining the deterioration rate of a street. When managing a network of roads, an important step is identifying which of these factors influence the deterioration rates on your roads.
The deterioration rate of a road is an average rate at which a pavement condition is projected to decay. This is instrumental to developing a pavement management plan that optimizes rehabilitation activities in conjunction with the network’s budget requirements. Among the factors that should be considered are impacts from surface distresses, drainage, ADT & ESAL (Average Daily Traffic and Equivalent Single Axis Load), and the conditions of the pavement base.
Let’s examine each of these factors individually:
You may not realize it if you have not been involved in public works for very long, but the pavement network that runs throughout your city is the most valuable visible asset that your city owns and maintains. Because the utility of this asset is so great and it is constantly deteriorating from use, it is very important to understand proper pavement management processes.
The pavement assets managed by your city require constant upkeep. In order to assess the need in your network, a dedicated pavement management process is necessary. This requires pavement management software, GIS integration, high tech survey equipment, and dedicated personnel. Most municipalities will hire a pavement management consultant with expertise unique to the city’s needs.
Here are some of the most common mistakes cities and counties make that end up misusing millions in tax payer dollars: