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Executive Summary

Most nations of the world have made significant investments in transportation infrastructure. In the United States alone, such investment is estimated at more than $1.75 trillion. However, as this infrastructure is used and exposed to natural forces, its condition will deteriorate. In the United States, in particular, a significant challenge facing national, State, and local officials is how to preserve the functionality of the existing transportation asset base while at the same time funding expansions of the transportation network to handle increasing demands. Although transportation officials often spend considerable time and energy on new roads, transit facilities, airports, and pedestrian/bicycle facilities, by some accounts, the Nation will spend more money over the next several decades preserving and maintaining the existing transportation base than it will building new facilities.[1]

The purpose of this scan was to investigate asset management experience, techniques, and processes in the world. Lessons from this experience could help the United States better understand how asset management applications can be used to enhance the effectiveness of decisionmaking and infrastructure management in Federal, State, and local transportation agencies. The United States faces a significant infrastructure preservation and capital replacement challenge. The lessons learned from this scan could provide important indications of how those who have been practicing effective asset management for some time have approached the challenge from both an institutional and technical point of view.

Scan Team

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) jointly sponsored this scan. In addition to FHWA officials (at the headquarters and field levels), the panel included representatives from the departments of transportation (DOT) for the States of Michigan, New Mexico, New York, and North Carolina; an official from the Portland, OR, Office of Transportation representing the American Public Works Association (APWA); a university professor representing the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Transportation Asset Management; and a university professor who acted as the report facilitator. These panel members represented a diverse set of interests and expertise in the areas of asset management, bridge and pavement management systems, transportation policy and planning, and transportation system operations.

The scan team sent each host of a site visit a set of amplifying questions that outlined the specific information the team desired. These questions provided a framework for the scan team's investigations of asset management practice, and gave the host government an opportunity to organize its information dissemination in response to these questions. In many cases, the team received written responses to the questions. In others, audiovisual presentations were coded so that the scan team knew exactly which questions were being discussed at that moment. In addition, the host agencies provided many documents and Web references relating to their asset management practice.

General Observations

The concluding section of this report presents a complete set of observations and lessons learned from this scan. The following list focuses on the observations that are most critical to understand the results of this scan.

Leadership and Organization
Any sustained organizational effort requires the involvement of organizational leaders and champions. In all of the sites visited, asset management practice has been occurring over at least 10 years and is continuing to evolve. Continuity in agency leadership and long-term organizational commitment to asset management as a business process were apparent in each case. Specific observations from the scan include the following:

Asset Management's Role in Decisionmaking
Aligning asset management with an agency's decisionmaking process is one of the most important factors in developing an effective and credible asset management program. Specific observations from the scan include the following:

Technical Approaches and Data Use in Asset Management
Asset management is a data-driven process that provides transportation officials with a very important analysis capability. Specific observations from the scan include the following:

Program Delivery
Asset management practice leads to the development of a program of investment and capital renewal. Specific observations from the scan include the following:

Human Resources
An effective asset management program has a strong human resource element. Every agency the team visited noted that a good asset management program requires knowledgeable staff capable of understanding the data-collection process and what the data mean. Observations from the scan include the following:

Lessons for the United States

A number of lessons for the United States resulted from this scan (see Chapter 7 for a more extensive list). The most important lessons include the following:

Implementation Strategies, Dissemination, and Recommendations

The scan team identified several short- and long-term strategies for disseminating and furthering the results of this scan.

Short-Term Strategies

  1. The scan results should be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the transportation community. Presentations will be scheduled for the annual meetings of TRB, AASHTO, and 6th National Asset Management Conference planned for fall 2005. Other opportunities will be identified by scan team members. The Transportation Asset Management community practice Web site will be repackaged to incorporate scan results.
  2. The AASHTO Subcommittee on Transportation Asset Management will be encouraged to continue development of the asset management software NT and PT by AASHTOWare. The subcommittee will also prepare a resolution for AASHTO board consideration that reinforces asset management as an important national and State policy.
  3. The existing National Highway Institute (NHI) course on asset management should be updated to reflect what has been learned on this scan.
  4. A senior executive forum on asset management should be organized to introduce senior leaders at transportation agencies to asset management concepts. This should be similar in format to the performance-based maintenance contracting workshop.
  5. A national telecast/Webcast on asset management similar to such telecasts on freight should be organized. A target date for this is summer 2006.

Long-Term Strategies
The following three implementation strategies create a climate of continuous process improvement on transportation asset management in the United States.

Change the national viewpoint of the Interstate System from merely highway expenditures to investments in mobility of people, goods, and services by using an asset management-based methodology that focuses on future conditions while identifying the cost of competitiveness and economic power.

Objectives

  1. Advance asset management principles as the strategic tools for assessing the entire Interstate System.
  2. Compare and contrast the similarities with other countries' highway networks, England's trunk system in particular, and how asset management can support the new vision for the Interstate System.
  3. Develop information on the economic impact of the degradation of the Interstate System.
  4. Determine a risk-allocation process for the Interstate System.
  5. Identify performance indicators and standards for the Interstate System to ensure its prominence in the delivery of goods and services for the entire Nation (e.g., smoothness, remaining service life) that are common across the system.
  6. Assume a national leadership role to protect the highest level of the transportation system, and encourage State and local agencies to work collaboratively on the remaining public assets.

Tasks

  1. Initiate a study to determine the benefits of using asset management plans for all segments of the Interstate System. The study should include analysis of the economic, social, and political impacts of requiring such plans and the mechanisms necessary to implement such a requirement.
  2. Document asset management practice in England, including national policy, performance indicators, and reporting requirements for national and local agencies. Draft correlating policy indicators and reporting requirements for the United States, which could provide guidance on reporting national, regional, and local transportation network performance.
  3. Target a State or region to take a holistic view of the entire public asset inventory that provides increased funding flexibility.
  4. Develop linkage between transportation planning and programming and asset management at the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) level.

Join with other efforts, agencies, and resources to embed asset management into existing efforts on an ongoing basis. Create a National Asset Management Steering Committee (NAMS) in the United States. Such an effort provides a platform to distribute information, provide training, and document best practices on transportation asset management nationally and abroad. Develop an easy-to-understand toolbox for asset management that can be applied at different levels of government. The tools should look beyond transportation to best practices in other industries. These tools should be available on a Web site for free downloading.

Objectives

  1. Develop a resource clearinghouse for asset management in the United States that draws from and is directly tied to equivalent efforts internationally and is available in the public domain.
  2. Market this clearinghouse to all levels of U.S. agencies and across all types of infrastructure.
  3. Investigate whether U.S. efforts to document best asset management practices and provide resources can be integrated with existing international asset management consortia.
  4. Participate annually in a national asset management forum to review progress, document case studies, develop curricula, and coordinate research efforts across infrastructure and Federal agencies.
  5. Inform all levels of transportation agencies—State, MPO, and local—of this resource clearinghouse.

Tasks

  1. Meet/communicate with FHWA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss potential alliance of asset management efforts.
  2. Develop a white paper discussing the relationships among AASHTO, FHWA, and EPA priorities and opportunities presented in asset management.
  3. Contact the international NAMS to identify copyright restrictions and opportunities to add the United States to existing efforts and document U.S. case studies for inclusion in the existing library of best practices. Develop alternatives with recommendations for U.S. clearinghouse implementation.
  4. Document the state of practice at the State and local transportation agency level in the United States as part of establishing a national approach to transportation asset management.
  5. Communicate with State, MPO, and local transportation agencies to inform them of training, forums, and best practices.
  6. Write articles for APWA Reporter, Public Roads, and appropriate State, municipal, and engineering journals.
  7. Support benchmarking of the U.S. asset management process (rather than performance) for local, regional, and State agencies. This should include an assessment of the capability and execution of linking decisions to quantified asset-related costs and benefits as well as whether processes have been documented and how often this occurs. Efforts should consider incorporating the AASHTO self-assessment survey. Share results at various State, MPO, and local government conferences and in literature.
  8. Create an automated survey tool in the public domain that participating agencies can complete and have results arrayed against comparable levels of governments.
  9. Develop a national competition on transportation asset management under FHWA's Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program.
  10. Develop videos and training materials aimed at various levels of government.

Extend U.S. asset management practice through NCHRP and other research opportunities.

The scan team identified several potential research projects:

  1. Conduct before-and-after studies on the effectiveness of asset management efforts and the identification of benefits.
  2. Establish state-of-the-art practices for data collection and analysis for asset management.
  3. Define and quantify risk categories for an asset management program.
  4. Synthesize data management principles, collection, sampling, and auditing techniques for asset management.
  5. Examine world experience with high-speed deflectograph technology, looking at the Denmark technology identified in the England case study.
  6. Examine more closely transportation assets other than bridges and road pavement, such as appurtenances, transit, streetlights, etc.
  7. Synthesize practice with how three-dimensional (3-D) or design files are linked to geographic information systems (GIS).

[1] See, for example, Kane, Anthony, R., "Why Asset Management Is More Critically Important Than Ever Before," Public Roads, March/April 2000á Vol. 63á No. 5, http://www.tfhrc.gov/pubrds/marapr00/kane.htm; Government Accounting Office, "HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE: Interstate Physical Conditions Have Improved, but Congestion and Other Pressures Continue," GAO-02-571, May 2002, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02571.pdf; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, "Transportation: The Bottom Line," 2002 http://transportation.org/bottomline/bottomline2002.pdf; U.S. Department of Transportation, "2002 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance," Report to Congress, 2003. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/2002cpr/.

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