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.
Setting up the System
There is a variety of pavement management software applications (i.e., Lucity, ESA, Micropaver) that a municipality can use to manage their pavement assets. Regardless of the software that your network uses, it must be properly linked with GIS and frequently updated with the current pavement condition.
The best way to collect the data your city needs is through a semi-automated pavement condition survey. A pavement condition survey will collect and organize distress data on pavement segments throughout the network. The system will automatically age streets with their distress data in mind, and recommend rehabilitation methods based on need and cost effectiveness.
At this stage it should be the goal of pavement managers to set up “need-year” rehabilitation plans. This method refers to a process of deferring work on a segment until the last possible year in which a rehabilitation technique can be effective. If these segments are deferred any longer, a more expensive rehab activity will be needed to return the street to full service. By prioritizing repairs based on need-year, a municipality can optimize their annual budget and prolong the life of as many roads as possible. To learn more about prioritizing rehab work, take a look at “Common Mistakes in Pavement Management that Could Cost Your City Millions”.
Sticking to a Plan
Once a network has a functioning pavement management system the task of identifying a budget must begin. The primary components that should be considered when determining the budget are:
Average Pavement Condition – IMS considers networks with a PCI score from 60-65 to fall within the national average for the US. If the network average is not yet 60, that should be a primary consideration before a budget is determined.
Percentage of Backlog Roads – The next important consideration should be the percentage of the pavement network that contains reconstruction candidates. These are roads with a PCI score from 1-40 and represent the most expensive repairs in the network. These roads are very expensive to return to full service and can eat up large portions of an annual budget, thus the percentage of roads in this category is recommended to stay below 15%, the lower the better.
Percentage of Excellent Roads – Excellent roads have a PCI from 85-100 and represent the areas of a network that require little to no investment to maintain. These are usually recently paved streets and the percentage of excellent roads can often indicate how money has been spent over the past 5-10 years. Since the percentage of these streets represents the percentage of the network that does not require any investment, the higher this number the better. IMS recommends at least 15% of a network’s roads fall within the excellent category.
Once these factors are considered, a pavement management software can generate a financially optimal pavement rehabilitation budget given the goals of the network and the ideal repairs based on need year.
Since every city is different, it is always a great idea to reach out to a pavement management consultant to best determine how these considerations should fit into your pavement plan.
Interested in setting up a pavement management program in your city? Check out "Pavement Management: A Professional's Guide" - An IMS Whitepaper