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?
Right-of-Way Asset Database
In order to execute on their responsibility as a steward of a city’s assets, municipalities must determine where the assets are, and how many assets they maintain. The first step to organizing this information is performing a right-of-way asset survey. This can be done a variety of ways, but the end result is similar; an organized database of signs, signals, markings and more is compiled together. The assets should then be organized using GIS information and plotted to a map of the city.
With a GIS integrated asset database the city can track everything they are required to maintain, and properly document repairs as they are completed. When a call is received regarding a failing traffic light, or missing stop sign, the information can be entered into the records and proper measures can be taken to fix the issue before it results in an injury. Demonstrating the ability to track asset repairs may also be important for avoiding potential legal concerns associated with the upkeep of city owned assets.
The goal of maintaining a right-of-way asset database is threefold: Convenience, Accountability and Public Safety.
Convenience – The process of managing thousands of assets can be daunting, but organization is key. When a city has a properly organized asset database it becomes a trivial task to notate complaints and issue repairs in a timely manner. This simplifies the tasks of city employees that are responsible for this type of documentation, eliminating waste and errors associated with disorganization.
Accountability – Cities must remain accountable to their asset stewardship responsibilities. Whether the goal is avoiding a lawsuit, or satisfying the requests of city board members, a properly maintained asset database is a strong indicator of a responsibly run local public works administration.
Public Safety – This is arguably the most important responsibility of a local government. When a stop sign has been damaged or vandalized, it is only a matter of time before an accident ensues. Maintaining an organized database of this type of right-of-way asset allows an administration to act quickly when reports of damaged or missing assets come in. Timely repairs may save lives.
If you are part of a team tasked with managing thousands of right-of-way assets the value of an organized asset database is not lost on you. Take the leap towards improving public safety and accountability in your city by preparing a GIS integrated database of all right-of-way assets. Just as drivers look to the street signs, city managers can look to the asset database to ensure they are headed in the right direction.