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Street Smarts: 5 Keys for Local Pavement Owners

Using proven practices and advanced technology, city and county leaders can provide longer-lasting roads, sidewalks and other pavement assets while reducing costs to the public.


A Guide to Modernize Your Pavement Strategy

Local governments have the difficult job of delivering safe, reliable infrastructure with limited public funds. Now, using proven practices and advanced technology, city and county leaders can provide longer-lasting roads, sidewalks and other pavement assets while reducing costs to the public.

Our guide, Street Smarts: 5 Keys for Local Pavement Owners, provides strategic insights and examples from successful agencies.

Download or expand the ebook to learn more.

Or read the executive summary below.

Executive Summary

It’s Time for a New Approach to Pavement Management

Local pavement owners face a complex set of challenges. The pressure to modernize critical infrastructure, improve safety, and reach sustainability targets is intense, while budgets and resources are limited. Plus, beyond maintaining existing roads, many municipalities need to expand their transportation networks to meet the demands of rapid population growth. 

Traditional “worst-first” and simple ranking approaches to pavement management fail to address the long-term challenges of safety, sustainability, and modernization.  These traditional approaches also fail to make the best use of available funds. To meet current challenges and future demands, local governments need to take a more modern approach to pavement management. 

43% of U.S. public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. These are mostly urban and rural roads that are not part of the interstate highway system.

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers, 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure

Modern pavement management enables owners to be proactive in preserving the entire pavement network in good condition rather than letting the infrastructure degrade to the point of needing costly rehabilitation or reconstruction. The modern approach incorporates data and advanced analysis to support a more holistic infrastructure lifecycle management strategy—a proven method to increase the safety and longevity of assets while reducing maintenance costs. 

This guidebook provides five keys to help city, county, and MPO leaders get the most value from infrastructure funds to manage streets, sidewalks and other local pavement assets. Using examples from successful agencies, this guide illustrates strategies to improve the performance and cost-effectiveness of your local pavement network. 

The strategies outlined in this guide are designed to help you:

  • Maximize the impact of infrastructure funding to manage and maintain local pavement assets
  • Improve pavement data quality and analysis to make better decisions for capital programming, operating budgets, and staffing 
  • Leverage modern pavement management practices to improve the maintenance of your broader infrastructure network

5 Keys for Local Pavement Owners

Key #1: Modernize Your Pavement Management

Pavement assets—which may include highways, streets, sidewalks, curbside ramps, parking lots and more—are often the largest infrastructure investments a local government has to manage. That’s why an effective pavement management practice is an essential part of an infrastructure management strategy that relies on proper stewardship of public funds.  

What Makes Pavement Management Modern? 

Modern pavement management relies on robust data collection and advanced analytics to facilitate well-informed decisions about how best to plan, design, build, manage and maintain all the pavement assets in the network. In contrast to traditional approaches, a modern approach to pavement management breaks down information silos and leverages new technologies to connect complex datasets and workflows throughout the entire lifecycle of pavement assets.  

In addition, a modern approach integrates pavement management into a holistic infrastructure management framework, coordinating the management of pavements, bridges and many other types of assets—from traffic signs and signals to stormwater structures, charging stations and more. This integrated approach helps infrastructure managers improve operational efficiency and save costs. It also increases the long-term performance and sustainability of all the infrastructure assets throughout their lifecycles. The end result is to deliver more value to the public in the form of safer, longer-lasting, and more affordable infrastructure.

Modern Pavement ManagementKey #2: Elevate your Data Quality

Modern pavement management depends on high-quality data. However, many agencies don’t have up-to-date information about their assets. The following data challenges are common among local pavement owners:

  • Incomplete asset inventory data
  • Lack of data on pavement distress, surface characteristics, and structural capacity
  • Lack of historical data on previous repairs and maintenance work 
  • Lack of usage data, such as average daily traffic (ADT)

To improve data quality, owners need to collect comprehensive pavement data and centralize it so it can be properly shared and analyzed. 

Defining Data and Asset Standards

Before beginning your pavement data collection, you’ll need to define your data and asset standards. For example, does your project data-capture standard match your scanning and imaging data-capture standard? Many infrastructure owners are moving toward “universal” data-capture standards so they are able to capture assets in the same way on construction projects as for operations and maintenance. 

Data Collection Technologies: Smarter and More Affordable

Today’s data-capture options span a wide array of technologies—from surveying and mapping to scanning and imaging. Selecting the right option may seem daunting, given the speed of innovation of these emerging tools. The “right” technologies for your projects may vary depending on the assets, accuracy and data outputs needed, as well as on your organization’s data standards and goals.

Trimble’s global network of data-collection technology providers and engineering consultant partners can provide guidance on today’s most advanced technologies—including laser scanning and mobile mapping—based on your organization’s data standards and needs. Our teams also provide training and support. Contact Trimble’s product support team for more information.

Key #3: Use Advanced Analytics to Make Better Decisions

Having a large, accurate data set is only useful if your organization has the advanced analytical capabilities to gain actionable insights from it. Many agencies still rely on spreadsheets as their primary analytical tools; however, spreadsheets provide limited analysis capabilities and are cumbersome to share and update efficiently. In addition, the manual processes associated with using spreadsheets increase the likelihood of data inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

To select the best mix of projects that will help preserve and improve the condition of your local pavement network, you need to use advanced analytics that include true optimization analysis. True optimization analysis goes beyond simple ranking methods by taking multiple factors into account—such as pavement condition, budget, performance targets, time horizon and more—to identify the best mix of projects to meet your objectives with the available funds. 

Key #4: Engage Leadership Support

Pavement management requires collaboration from disparate internal groups that may also be widely distributed throughout a geographic area. Many agencies also work with partners in neighboring jurisdictions. Implementing modern pavement management practices requires these groups to change how they work together. 

To get all key stakeholders on the same page, it’s helpful to identify an executive leadership champion who can communicate a unified vision and clarify the roles of the contributing teams. Successful agencies have leadership champions who drive engagement across the organization and among partners to ensure stakeholder buy-in and commitment.

Encouraging Leadership Buy-In

To get buy-in from local leaders, demonstrate the value of modernizing your pavement management program:

  • Highlight the benefits for the public (safety, cost savings, sustainability, etc.)
  • Show how business-as-usual practices cost more in the long term 
  • Share success stories from similar agencies

Key #5: Adopt the Connected Construction Approach

One of the most innovative approaches to asset management involves “connected construction” — the seamless integration of workflows across the design, construction, and maintenance phases of the infrastructure lifecycle. The connected construction approach unifies data across these key phases and eliminates the inefficiencies and information gaps that result from siloed processes. 

Adopting the connected construction approach allows infrastructure owners to get more value from the asset across its full lifecycle by reducing the effort to collect and use asset-related data, and by increasing the transparency of information shared across relevant teams. 

Ultimately, by improving access to reliable data required for effective decision-making, the connected construction approach helps agencies deliver higher-performing, more sustainable infrastructure while reducing safety hazards and other risk factors.

From Insight To Action

As stewards of public funds, local agencies bear a responsibility to make the best use of their budgets to deliver safe, sustainable, and cost-effective infrastructure for the communities they serve. Traditional asset management approaches do not empower local governments to get the most value from their largest infrastructure investments: pavements. Using the five keys outlined in this guide, you can start to modernize your pavement management practices and proactively preserve your pavement network, maximizing the impact of taxpayer funds to deliver long-lasting infrastructure value.