Managing Pavements and Monitoring Performance: Best Practices in Australia, Europe, and New Zealand - Executive Summary
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In the last few years, transportation agencies in the United States have seen the gap between available resources and investment needs widen. At the same time, demand on the infrastructure has been increasing and pressure from the U.S. Congress and State and local governments has been growing to preserve asset conditions and improve transparency and accountability in asset management. These factors have forced agency leaders to reevaluate how they manage assets and adopt innovative and cost-effective strategies for doing more with less.
Internationally, many countries have faced similar challenges and have responded with policies and programs to deal effectively with rising costs, declining revenues, and increasing demands for mobility and growth. They have developed cultures that support a performance-based management approach that accounts for the long-term financial implications associated with system expansion and views transportation decisions from a service-oriented rather than condition-based perspective. The lessons they have learned and the adjustments they have made could benefit transportation agencies in the United States that are considering new strategies for managing transportation assets.
Because pavements represent one of a transportation agency's largest investments, an international scan was conducted to investigate how countries internationally have improved the management of their pavements as they faced the challenges of decreased revenue, deteriorating conditions, and increased public demand for transportation services. The scan, which focused on pavements but was applicable to other assets, was cosponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Richard Tetreault, director of program development and chief engineer for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and Butch Wlaschin, director of the FHWA Office of Asset Management, served as scan chairs. The scan took place in June 2011. Since the scan was completed, Congress has passed Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), legislation that supports the use of performance-based programs such as those found internationally. The lessons learned in the evolution of practices used by the international scan participants will benefit the United States greatly as agencies respond to the accountability requirements outlined in MAP-21.
The scan focused on the following topic areas:
- Processes for implementing sustainable performance-based programs for managing pavements, and the use of pavement condition information and projections to support programs such as pavement preservation, public-private partnerships, and safety hazard mitigation. This included the use of financial and other incentives for linking pavement budgeting decisions to cost-effective management practices over the life cycle of the pavement.
- Effective methods for communicating with upper management, legislators, and other stakeholders, including strategies to secure public and legislative support.
- Agency cultures that support performance-based programs, including effective capacity-building programs. This included strategies for addressing organizational or institutional issues to ensure that a decentralized organization works toward specific performance targets established for the entire network.
- Techniques, tools, analyses, and reporting mechanisms that support and encourage performance-based management and optimal use of available resources in transportation agencies.
Although the scan team was investigating practices for managing pavements, most of the agencies it met with manage their pavement networks in an asset management framework that considers factors such as strategic fit, effectiveness, efficiency, and risk in determining levels of investment for roads, waterways, rails, and other assets. These agencies operate in a culture in which the long-term implications of their decisions are understood and communicated to decisionmakers using strategic performance measures linked to tactical decisions. Therefore, many of the recommendations have an asset management focus that can be applied to pavements or other transportation infrastructure assets.