Using Computers to Prevent Potholes

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This past winter has been especially harsh on paving, causing significant vehicle-damaging potholes.  Most of the time the damaged pavement is neglected until it is falling apart and eventually patched.  The patches fail, giving the pavement the look of a ratty quilt, until it’s ripped up and replaced.

For those that own commercial properties it can mean a lot of pavement to maintain.  Whether that pavement is asphalt, concrete or some other surface, it will need to be repaired and, at some point, replaced.

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Rather than letting pavement fall into complete disrepair before taking action, a better option may be to use a Pavement Management System to keep track of the paved surfaces and schedule routine maintenance.  Completing repairs in a timely manner will often reduce the number of potholes produced each winter, as well as increase the pavement’s lifespan.  Planning pavement maintenance with a Pavement Maintenance System can reduce overall costs by extending the pavement’s life and by bundling repairs into more cost-effective contracts.

A Pavement Management System starts with a database that catalogs the amount, type, and condition of the pavement you have.  The pavement is partitioned into areas that would logically be considered for repair, such as an individual parking lot, road segment, or stretch of sidewalk.  The pavement is then inspected and the condition is entered into a computer program that creates a database with the critical information for each partitioned area.

Once the data is cataloged, the program provides a detailed schedule of repairs for each area of pavement, including the type, a timetable for implementation, and the projected cost.  This information is broken down into time segments, so you can budget funds each year for expected pavement repairs.  Each year, the types and timing of repairs can be adjusted to revise the budget to meet expected cash flows.

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A major benefit of having this database is knowing where repairs will have the greatest impact.  Although some paving is close to the failure point, the life could be extended considerably with some minor repairs.  Other areas may have already passed the failure point, so as little as possible should be spent to keep the paving safe until the next full reconstruction.  For both cases the Pavement Management System will provide the information needed to minimize repair costs while reducing the number of potholes and other vehicle-damaging pavement failures.

A Pavement Management System enhances the decision making process for maintenance planning by relating an objective evaluation of pavement conditions to the owner’s maintenance budget, practices and preferences.  A Pavement Management System can help predict the fiscal impacts if maintenance activities are increased, decreased or deferred.  The program can also be used to review alternate “what if” scenarios and develop the most cost-effective and optimum schedule for repairs for the next five years or further into the future.

A Pavement Management System can be an extremely effective tool for making decisions about scheduling and budgeting repairs and can be helpful in discussing the status of pavements with tenants and customers.  VanDemark & Lynch, Inc. has helped a number of clients control the costs and schedules for pavement repairs, including Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania and the Delaware State Division of Parks and Recreation.  Potholes 2014-03-30 005