Pavement Management is a set of tools and philosophies designed to manage the maintenance activities of asphalt concrete and portland concrete pavements. A Pavement Management System consists of a module to keep track of existing and historical pavement condition data and a decision making process to help choose the most cost-effective maintenance strategies and which roads to treat when. Conventional wisdom of most public works and road department agencies has been to treat roads in a “worst-first” philosophy. Under this “worst-first” policy, roads are allowed to deteriorate to a nearly failed condition before any rehabilitation (such as overlays or reconstructions), are applied. This can also be called the “don’t fix if it aint broke” mentality.
Pavement Management Systems are designed with a more cost-effective, “Best-first” approach. The reasoning behind this philosophy, is that it is better to treat roads with lower-cost, preventative maintenance treatments, such as slurry seals, chip seals, and crack seals, and extend their life cycle, before the road condition deteriorates to a state where it requires more costly rehabilitation and reconstruction treatments. Generally, paved roads spend about three-quarters of their life-cycle in fair to excellent condition, where the road shows little sign of deterioration and has a high service level. After this time, the road condition begins to deteriorate at a rapid rate and, if not maintained properly, soon reach a condition where it will require costly overlays and reconstructions. If treated with a surface seal and other preventative measures, the road condition will remain at a good level for a longer period of time.
A Pavement Management System can help improve the decision making process within an organization by supplying:
- Recommendations for more cost-effective treatments on a network level
- Budget cost estimates to maintain a serviceable pavement condition
on a network-wide level
- A way to analyze effects of varied funding levels and show the results
of insufficient funding.
- Quantifiable data and projections to justify increased budget funding requests
- A means to track pavement performance over time