Worst First is the Worst

Worst First is the Worst
October 2, 2017 Nikhil Ranga

In the management of any asset, there is always a complex balance between maintenance and repair. Roads are not any different in how communities must approach them. Roads are subjected to enormous burdens every day: car traffic, heavily loaded freight trucks, as well as weather ranging from solar heating to rain, snow and other precipitation. Roads degrade and can quickly become unusable without thoughtful management practices.

Now road management can become a numbers game. The roads in a community are not built all at once and therefore are all at the same life cycle stage. No, roads are much more complicated. Roads have different traffic patterns; different slopes can make them susceptible to varying amounts of precipitation damage or solar radiation. These factors are necessary to consider when approaching a road management plan.

This road management task is a complex undertaking, and it is all too common to simply find the roads in the worst condition and overhaul them back into good health at the cost of significant budget dollars. This is the worst-first strategy.

Now for a community that has potentially neglected their roads for some time and where most of these roads represent a physical hazard, this is the only viable strategy. But this is not sustainable.

Every community should strive to move towards a pavement preservation strategy.

With limited budget dollars, preventative maintenance stretches those budget dollars further. Simple road interventions to maintain the good roads allow communities to elongate the effective life of all their roads. A worst-first strategy is guaranteed to churn budget dollars and perpetually play catch-up.

The transition can be daunting, and if improperly managed it can be impossible – but the rewards are enormous.

Increasing repair cost as a function of pavement deterioration

Newer technologies, like those from RoadBotics, are also making it easier than ever adopt a preventative maintenance strategy. With affordable automated road monitoring solutions, community managers and engineers have unprecedented access and insights into the status of every one of their roads enabling effective decision making and incorporating preventative maintenance strategies.

It is imperative that every community rethink their worst-first strategy and start moving towards a more modern approach – your budget and your roads will thank you.

Image Sources:

Fig 1:

https://www.faa.gov/airports/central/airport_compliance/pavement_maintenance/

Fig 2:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/pavements/13038/011.cfm