Efficiently managing roads is essential for budget optimization and ensuring the longevity of pavements. Pavement conditions can be evaluated using a variety of different assessment and rating systems. A common tool for evaluating asphalt and concrete is the ASTM Standard Pavement Condition Index (PCI), measured on a scale of 0 to 100. Pavement condition data is often referred to as “PCI data” whether this standard was used for data collection or not. This blog discusses the various ways PCI data can be incorporated into pavement management programs. It explains how this data can help in choosing the best maintenance and repair methods following a common theory for pavement management: applying the right repairs to the right road at the right time.

Understanding the Pavement Condition Index (PCI):

Highway road between trees

The ASTM Standard PCI is a numerical measure for assessing road conditions, where 100 means excellent condition and 0 indicates complete failure. This method allows a comprehensive evaluation of both asphalt and concrete pavements. However, many agencies don’t know how to effectively use this data as part of their pavement management programs. Below are some examples of how PCI data can be used to help prioritize projects to improve pavement management programs and Capital Improvement Programs (CIPs).

Utilizing PCI Data for Strategic Planning:

 

Step 1 – Assessing the Pavement Network:

Start the strategic process by examining the entire road network using PCI data. Analyze the average PCI rating, identify the percentage of roads in poor and good condition, and see if these figures align with expectations. This overview sets the foundation for establishing realistic goals and standards for the overall pavement network condition, how to reach those goals, and how to maintain them.

Step 2 – Allocating Repair Types:

To maximize budget efficiency, assign repair types based on PCI ratings. This step focuses on performing repairs at the right time, with time being related to where a pavement is in its life cycle. Tailor repair strategies to the specific needs of each road by categorizing them as follows:

  • Good Condition = Preventative Maintenance/ Minor Repairs
  • Fair Condition = Major Repairs
  • Poor Condition = Major Repairs or Reconstruction
  • Very Poor/ Failed Condition = Reconstruction

Step 3 – Assigning Specific Repair Recommendations:

This step focuses on performing the right repairs to the right roads by refining the assigned repair method for each road. Each roadway has unique features and circumstances that can influence how effective different repair methods will be. Simply assigning “preventative maintenance” or “major repairs” is not enough. By reviewing additional pavement data, specific repair methods can be assigned, like those in Table 1. Consider factors such as pavement type, cross-section characteristics (rural vs. urban), surface distress types, pavement age, subgrade condition, traffic volume, functional class, previous repairs, and anticipated future projects along the roadway (such as underground utility improvements). This approach ensures the use of the most suitable repair methods for each road section.

Table 1. Examples of Preventative Maintenance/Minor Repairs and Major Repairs

Preventative Maintenance/Minor Repair Examples Major Repair Examples
Crack sealing Full-depth patching
Chip seal/fog seal Overlay/mill-and-overlay
Minor/partial-depth patching Full-depth reclamation (FDR)

 

Including pavement condition data in road management is crucial for making informed, data-driven decisions. It is also important for getting the most out of a budget. By analyzing and using PCI data, agencies can prioritize projects, extend pavement life, and create improvement plans aligned with their goals. Using pavement condition data is important for improving road management and creating a stronger and more sustainable infrastructure.

 

Heidi Olson, PE

Heidi Olson, PE

Heidi serves as McClure’s in-house Geotechnical Engineer with over 8 years of experience in geotechnical engineering for commercial and transportation projects. Prior to joining McClure, Heidi was a Geotechnical Project Engineer at Braun Intertec for over 7 years, where she was responsible for managing commercial and transportation projects, developing design parameters for shallow and deep foundations, and pavement thickness design and pavement rehabilitation recommendations. As McClure’s in-house Geotechnical Engineer, Heidi is managing, coordinating, and performing engineering analyses for all DOT geotechnical projects. You can contact Heidi at holson@mcclurevision.com.

Heidi Olson, PE

Heidi Olson, PE

Heidi serves as McClure’s in-house Geotechnical Engineer with over 8 years of experience in geotechnical engineering for commercial and transportation projects. Prior to joining McClure, Heidi was a Geotechnical Project Engineer at Braun Intertec for over 7 years, where she was responsible for managing commercial and transportation projects, developing design parameters for shallow and deep foundations, and pavement thickness design and pavement rehabilitation recommendations. As McClure’s in-house Geotechnical Engineer, Heidi is managing, coordinating, and performing engineering analyses for all DOT geotechnical projects. You can contact Heidi at holson@mcclurevision.com.

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