Evaluate Federal Measures and Metrics for Pavements

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Evaluate Federal Measures and Metrics for Pavements



Research Period

12-18 months


The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill established federal regulations that require each State Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP), and implement Performance Management. These regulations require all DOTs to utilize nationally defined performance measures for pavements on the National Highway System (NHS). These nationally defined performance measures (referred as PM2 hereafter) are aimed at providing nationally consistent metrics for DOTs to measure condition, establish targets, assess progress toward targets, and report on condition and performance. Furthermore, Federal measures provide the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) the ability to better communicate a national performance story and to more reliably assess the impacts of Federal funding investments.
State DOTs are expected to use the information and data generated from these Federal measures to inform their transportation planning and programming decisions. However, State DOTs are finding discrepancies between pavement conditions from PM2 measures as compared to their internal, state-developed measures. This discrepancy hampers the adoption of the PM2 pavement measures as the primary input into condition summary reporting and pavement investment prioritization and decision-making. In other words, State DOTs do not have confidence in the Federal measures, primarily because these measures cannot be used to inform decision-making processes such as investment decisions. Furthermore, the resulting differences between state metric-determined and federal metric-determined network conditions creates confusion among the public, senior executive staff, and legislative bodies, along with non-DOT owners of NHS assets.
As mentioned before, FHWA needs to collect consistent Federal measures across all State DOTs to assess the impact of Federal funding investment at the national level. However, State DOTs have been collecting pavement performance data for decades and used this data to inform their pavement management systems and processes to address specific needs. Typically, the data collection processes cover state-owned pavements and not only NHS pavements, which brings another layer of inconsistency. For this reason, there is a need for more flexible metrics that can be aligned to performance measures currently used by State DOTs and support decision-making processes such as investment decisions.

Literature Search Summary

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The objective of this research is to:
1. Evaluate current federal pavement condition measures (Ride Quality, Rutting, Faulting, and Cracking), performance thresholds, and overall performance measure with respect to:
a. Consistency – across various pavement types, network designations, and lane configurations
b. Usefulness – in network-level pavement condition summary and asset management decision-making, prioritization, and forecasts; and
c. Alignment – with state established pavement condition metrics

2. Provide recommendations to improve existing measures and/or identify metrics that better reflect pavement failure mechanisms and enhance decision-making taking into account not
only the assessment of current and future condition but also their implications in economic analyses of long-term maintenance and rehabilitation. Evaluate pavement leading indicators as an alternative to the current version of the PM2.

3. Identify and address in detail specific challenges for each condition measure (Ride Quality, Rutting, Faulting, and Cracking) for consistency, including thresholds. For example, determine if wheel path cracking considerations could be revised to provide more consistent results across pavement types (e.g. composite, concrete) and pavement widths (e.g. <12 ft.) 4. Evaluate structural capacity indicators for potential consideration as a Federal measure.

Urgency and Potential Benefits

Because DOTs are only two years into implementing the pavement performance measures and metrics, the urgency is great to make sure the measures in use are as meaningful, consistent and implementable as possible. Currently, the performance measures have not achieved widespread use as the primary performance criteria for decision-making, leading to two sets of metrics being used by many agencies. In addition, DOTs must make performance predictions and justifications based on the federal performance measures. Making any changes to the measures as soon as possible will allow DOTs to build up datasets on which to base predictions of future performance.
Potential benefits to improving the federal pavement performance measures and metrics include:
• Metrics that better define pavement failure mechanisms and therefore condition
• Metrics that result in more consistent results across pavement types and pavement widths
• Broader adoption of the measures by DOTs as part of decision-making criteria
• Less confusion among the public, senior executive staff, and legislative bodies, along with non-DOT owners of NHS assets by having one set of metrics instead of two (federal and state-specific)

Implementation Considerations

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Others Supporting Problem Statement

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Potential Panel Members

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Person Submitting Statement

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This topic is of significant interest to AASHTO, TRB, and the DOTs, having ranked third amongst potential NCHRP topics in the recent TAM Research Prioritization conducted as part of the 2020 Mega Meeting of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Asset Management, in cooperation with the TRB Asset Management Committee (AJE30).
The following are organizations and contacts who may be interested in using the results of the research and supporting its dissemination:
• AASHTO Committee on Performance-based Management: Tim Henkel, Chair (Minnesota DOT, (651) 366-4829, [email protected]), Matt Hardy (AASHTO, (202) 624-3625, [email protected])
• AASHTO Subcommittee on Asset Management: Matt Haubrich, Chair (Iowa DOT, (515) 233-7902, [email protected])
• FHWA Office of Asset Management: Steve Gaj (FHWA, (202) 366-1336, [email protected]) Tim Henkel, TAM Expert Task Group Chair (see contact above)
• TRB Asset Management Committee (ABC40): Tim Henkel, Chair (see contact above)


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