The West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) is responsible for planning, engineering, right-of-ways acquisition, construction, reconstruction, traffic regulation and maintenance of more than 35,000 miles of state roads.
Federal legislation requires all state transportation departments to develop, implement and make public a risk-based Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) which applies to all road surfaces and bridges on the National Highway System (NHS). When it set out to publish its first ever TAMP in 2019, West Virginia had a pavement management system (PMS) which analysed the condition of its roads, but no equivalent system for its bridges. The state has 1,294 bridges and 3,451 miles of roads within the NHS, which would be the focus of the TAMP, but there was also an expectation that more assets would be included in these plans in future years. To help it deliver its plan to a high standard and develop leading-edge asset management practices for the future, WVDOH turned to Mott MacDonald, and its partners The Kercher Group and Deighton.
The existing PMS, the Deighton Infrastructure Management System (dTIMS) which contained around 10 years of historical data of pavement conditions in the state, was enhanced to meet the updated requirements of the TAMP. The project team also created a new Bridge Management System (BMS) which works on similar principles, leveraging physical inspections and calculating condition ratings.
In both systems, software was built in that would use historical data to analyse the risk that any road surface or bridge would deteriorate and be rated ‘poor’. The risk analysis is then combined with information about the cost of possible treatments to improve the condition of the bridge or road surface, to allow a prioritised list of interventions to be produced showing which of them will have the greatest impact for the money spent.
The department can use this prioritised list to model the effect of varying its maintenance budget. As there are federal penalties associated with having roads and bridges classified as ‘poor’, it can compare the likely effect of extra spending with the likely penalties if money is not spent, and budget accordingly.
Using the new systems and the analysis they provide, our team was able to develop investment strategies for WVDOH, and make a recommendation for a $50M increase in annual bridge funding above baseline budget forecasts, which was approved by the West Virginia Department of Transportation. The project will enhance decision-making, particularly by informing the contents of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), and the systems and processes used are likely to be applied to more roads and assets in future.
The final TAMP, which included all the components required by federal regulations, was completed on budget, within a compressed time schedule, and received final approval from the FHWA in August 2019. WVDOH is now able to make data-driven decisions to better manage bridges and pavements for years to come.