Pavement Rating: Moving from a Subjective to an Objective Approach

What we mean by a subjective approach is a property manager will rate or prioritize pavement conditions visually or with a seat of the pants approach. Rating is made by what looks worse or how uncomfortable the ride is. With pavement management, a subjective approach can work on a single, small property where a manager can remember pavement conditions over the years. But for larger properties, regions, and portfolios, we recommend an objective approach to prioritize and budget for maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R) programs. Objectivity is achieved by using a repeatable condition observation methodology. 

Starting an objective program is a straightforward process of record review and data collection. There are three, easy to acquire, inputs:

Pavement use and area ā€“ We typically separate parking areas from roadways and high-use areas from low-use areas. Pavement area cane be calculated from a computer aided drafted (CAD) file or by using the polygon area calculation feature of Google Earth. A good area calculation is essential to determining pavement M&R budgets.

Surface type and age ā€“ Identifying pavement surface type is important because we generally want to maintain the current surface type and pavement repairs are matched to surface type. The construction date of the last surface is essential when we make predictions of future conditions. When we know the last construction date and the current condition, we can make a simple, straight line projection out into the future. Estimating future conditions, we can make an opinion of future M&R costs. 

Pavement rating ā€“ The Pavement Condition Index rating methodology is the differentiating factor between the many pavement management systems out there. We strongly believe that a rating methodology must have three elements: 1) Each pavement distress type is identified 2) For each distress type, a severity level chosen 3) Quantify the pavement distress at each distress and severity combination.

The collected information can then be entered into a database. Our preferred system is called PAVER. It is pavement management software developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. We like it because it is nonproprietary, it is maintained by a public university, and has hundreds of users. 

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