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Closing the Gap between Network-Level and Project Level Pavement Evaluation


As we advance the State of the Practice in Pavement Management, practitioners still acknowledge a gap between network level assessments and project level needs. Ironically, with today’s technology, network level data is now collected at a density far greater than most originally considered feasible (or cost effective) for project level evaluations. With current data acquisition and storage speeds, technology is available to gather any essential data at highway speeds (even structural capacity and safety data).

As an industry, we have been so well indoctrinated in the distinction between network level and project level data that we may have lost sight of where the distinction came from and/or the ultimate objective(s) for gathering such data. We find ourselves readily collecting data at hundredths of a mile (or less) and then averaging the results to report network level statistics. More importantly, we find ourselves duplicating effort to try and reproduce project level information for determining actual treatment needs. The practitioners (the individuals that ultimately need to decide what needs to be done to which roads) struggle to use network data to its full potential because of how it is being summarized and reported.

With devices now capable of collecting surface and structural performance data simultaneously at highway speeds, it should now be feasible to better explore how we close the gap between network level and project level evaluation. The emergence of these integrated devices have created an opportunity, for the first time, for continuous and comprehensive evaluation of a pavement network. There are of course still analytical challenges resulting from the introduction of such technology. Recent national and international studies are working to address these challenges. Additional research is needed to facilitate adoption and proper application, in order to optimize both project and network level pavement management agency needs.


1) To establish appropriate project level outputs for:

a) Surface Distress Needs

b) Structural Metric(s)

c) Safety Metric(s).

2) To develop means for aggregating these outputs for network level analysis.

3) Demonstrate the incorporation of these statistics within an agency’s PMS processes and demonstrate the value through application using one or more agency PMS.


The following are the potential benefits of this study:

  1. Agencies for the first time will have a practical device and methodology to perform continuous and comprehensive pavement evaluation.

  2. Expanding agencies’ pavement management systems to include project level data will enhance the maintenance and rehabilitation decision-making process. Technology today is capable of producing leading performance measures as opposed to lagging performance measures. This can result in significant cost savings by selecting effective maintenance and rehabilitation strategies based on comprehensive evaluations of existing pavements.

Related Research:

A number of studies have investigated the state-of-the-technology and use of highway speed continuous deflection devices for network-level pavement structural evaluation.[i][ii][iii] Building upon these efforts, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research study entitled “Pavement Structural Evaluation at the Network Level” evaluated two traffic speed devices, TSD and RWD (rolling wheel deflectometer), that were identified as potential devices currently on the market in the SHRP2-R06(F) effort. The raw measurements from these devices were compared with those measured using sensors embedded in the pavement surface. The study found that the accuracy and precision of these devices are acceptable for network level application.

Recent studies show that current technology is more efficient than traditional project level analyses. The focus is shifting from what network level statistic to report to what data should be produced to facilitate the analyses and ultimate designs.

[[i]]Strategic Highway Research Program (2012) “Assessment of Continuous Pavement Deflection Measuring Technologies,” Final Report, Project SHRP2–R06(F), Washington, DC.

[[ii]] Rada, G. R. and Nazarian, S. (2011) “The State-of-the-Technology of Moving Pavement Deflection Testing,” Final Report, FHWA-DTFH61-08-D-00025, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.

[iii]] Jitin, A., Tandon V., and Nazarian S. (2006), “Continuous Deflection Testing of Highways at Traffic Speeds,” Research Report No. FHWA/TX-06/0-4380-1, Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX. iv Katicha, S., Flintsch, G., Shrestha, S, Thyagarajan, S (2017) “Demonstration of Network Level Structural Evaluation with Traffic Speed Deflectometer in Virginia,” Project No. FHWA-DTFH61-11-D-00009-T-13008, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.

v Rada, G.R., Nazarian, S., Visintine, B.A., Siddharthan, R and Thyagarajan, S (2016) “Pavement Structural Evaluation at the Network Level; Final Report”, Research Report No. FHWA-HRT-15-074, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC


The research will include the following tasks:

1.Conduct a literature review of available technologies and project level data needs.

2.Develop standard set of project level data needs (along with appropriate precision and bias estimates) based on project level analysis and design impact studies.

  1. Identify or develop methodologies and guidance for effectively aggregating these statistics for network level analysis. This shall include approaches focused on:

a. incorporating leading pavement performance metrics within an agency’s PMS process

b. demonstrating its value through application using one or more agency PMS.

  1. Identify future research needs.

Task 3b is intended to facilitate application of the research results. Which would include incorporation in State Asset Management Plans, refinement of treatment selections and guidelines for adoption and incorporation of the results in treatment design.


Asset Management, Planning, Design

Sponsoring Committee:AFD20, Pavement Condition Evaluation
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Jerome F. Daleiden
Source Info:Committee Members, State Agencies, Workshops
Date Posted:04/25/2018
Date Modified:05/11/2018
Index Terms:Pavement management systems, Pavements, Project management, Construction projects, Networks, Evaluation, Pavement performance,
Cosponsoring Committees:AFD80, Pavement Structural Modeling and Evaluation; AFD10, Pavement Management Systems
Planning and Forecasting

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