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:
This year, and every year for the foreseeable future, your city, town, or county is likely to spend millions of dollars maintaining their pavement infrastructure. Large municipalities frequently spend upwards of 5 million dollars or more every year to maintain their roads. This is because the pavement network that you utilize every day is the single most valuable visible asset that a city owns and maintains.
Constant and ever-increasing traffic on these streets means that the pavement network is consistently deteriorating. The City must take an active, preventative maintenance approach if they want to prevent such a vital asset from deteriorating to the point where costly reconstruction is needed. In the pavement management industry this is called, “Pavement Rehabilitation”.
If you are planning a pavement survey or just curious about the process, the PCI score is one of the most important figures to understand. PCI is an abbreviation for Pavement Condition Index. Created by the Army Corp of Engineers, PCI is a number on a scale from 1-100 that is used to summarize the overall condition of a roadway segment.
The PCI score of a road segment can be used to recommend potentially viable rehabilitation methods, costs of repairs, and even to make predictions on the future condition of pavement infrastructure. This makes the task of calculating an accurate PCI score of considerable importance. But how is PCI calculated?
When the time comes to plan a pavement condition survey for your city, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Which software do you use? What functional classes will you survey? Do you want to include structural condition data? At IMS, one of the most common questions we are asked is how conducting a deflection test will affect the overall analysis results, and how that might impact budgeting decisions. Let’s examine that question further, using a real world example.
What happens when the base of a road fails? You can expect to see cracks spreading rapidly, for one. These cracks will often compound into a variety of other distresses, resulting in severe raveling and the formation of potholes. Soon the roadway conditions become undrivable and even dangerous. Expensive reconstruction is the only option.
Deflection testing is the process by which the structural strength of a road’s base is measured. By understanding the strength of a pavement base, a municipality can have a better idea of the future rate of deterioration on that street. This leads to better condition and budget projections as well as more accurate rehabilitation plans.