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Developing Data Needs for Pavement Management Decision Making for Local Agencies to Meet National Performance Measures


There has been significant work done on performance based data needs for pavement management decision making driven by maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R) treatment strategies, both at the project and network levels. However, there are different kinds of pavement management decision making for different types of transportation agencies. For example, the data needs for state departments of transportation (DOTs) may be different from the data needs for local agencies such as metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), counties and cities. The data needs for fund allocation, prioritization and ranking in a network level are different from the data needs in a strategy driven project level. Furthermore there has been little research on the data needs for including preventive pavement preservation strategies in current pavement management systems.

The performance metrics for pavement conditions on non-state National Highway System proposed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) have further exacerbated the problem. Recognizing that the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) is the only nationally available data set, it is understandable that FHWA chose the performance metrics from HPMS. However, the metrics proposed at best are suitable for DOTs, but not for local agencies. Specifically, the most controversial metric is the International Roughness Index (IRI). Data needs on IRI are not widely understood and used in local agencies nationally. Local agencies in California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington, to name a few, do not collect IRI for their local pavement management programs. Instead, Pavement Condition Index (PCI), that is based on the ASTM D6433, Pavement Surface Condition (PSC), which can be easily converted into PCI, Remaining Service Life (RSL), and PASER rating, are the most widely used condition indexes. They use these indexes to proactively manage pavement and make pavement investment decisions. The additional financial burden to collect IRI data is estimated to exceed $30 million in annual expenditures for local agencies, which is cost prohibitive due to the fact that the local agencies are already lacking funding to meet their road maintenance needs.

Hence a more flexible pavement condition performance reporting that will allow local agencies to report good/poor conditions based on their pavement management system is needed. Guidance should be developed to assist FHWA in translating different condition indexes into Good and Poor conditions.


This research “Developing Data Needs for Pavement Management Decision Making for Local Agencies to Meet National Performance Measures” is critical, as the pavement community understands the need for distinguishing the performance targets of transportation agencies at different levels of government, but is not clear on the data needs, especially the minimum data needs for pavement management decision making in these agencies. One example of this conundrum is the measurement of international roughness index or IRI. The IRI is generally needed for a state DOT PMS and can be reliably measured at highway speeds. However, IRI may not be a good index for pavement condition at a local agency for three reasons: firstly the reactive nature of IRI measurement is not suitable for proactive preventive maintenance; secondly the local agencies are not concerned with roughness since the travel speeds in local streets in urban environments are normally lower than major highways; thirdly, the stop and go traffic in local streets and inherited characteristics of pavement with grade breaks, utility boxes, intersections, making IRI data unreliable. On the other hand, there have been data quality issues in terms of repeatability, accuracy, and reliability in the acquisitions of pavement distress data used in pavement management.


i. To develop minimum data needs to support pavement management decision making for local agencies

ii. To develop guidelines for reliable, high quality data for PMS in support of decisions in both preventive and maintenance & rehabilitation activities.

iii. To establish guidelines for conversion of existing pavement condition indexes for performance management reporting under MAP-21.


Have you ever purchased a vacuum cleaner with bells and whistles but ultimately realized that all is needed is a vacuum cleaner with a strong suction? The same principle applies to local agencies in implementing and maintaining a PMS. The final product from this research will provide tremendous cost savings for local agencies in PMS implementation, data collection, and more importantly, being able to take actions in preserving existing pavement asset. Nationally, FHWA will have consistent, defensible, and credible performance measures that meet the MAP-21 requirements with ultimate pavement investment decisions coming from the ground up.


Task 1. Through a thorough literature review, identify the various data types currently being used in network level PMS by different agencies (state DOT’s, MPO’s, counties and cities).

Task 2. Conduct a nationwide survey of state DOT’s, MPO’s, counties and cities to identify the data types, data quality and data management practices being used for PMS and data reporting efforts.

Task 3. Identify the minimum data needs for PMS decision support modeling at the local agency level to include preventive maintenance, as well as M&R recommendations into the PMS.

Task 4. Identify the quality control/quality assurance methods utilized for PMS data and develop standards for data variability and reliability associated with MAP-21 reporting.

Task 5. Develop standard guidelines for the conversion and reporting of minimum levels of PMS data from the local agencies to meet the MAP-21 reporting requirements.

Sponsoring Committee:AKT10, Pavement Management Systems
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Feng Wang, Sui Tan, Doug Fith
Date Posted:02/10/2016
Date Modified:02/16/2016
Index Terms:Pavement management systems, Decision making, Performance measurement, State departments of transportation, Metropolitan planning organizations, Metrics (Quantitative assessment), International Roughness Index, Data collection, Highways,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Data and Information Technology
Maintenance and Preservation
Planning and Forecasting

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