Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersBest Practices for Managing Aging Transportation Infrastructure

Best Practices for Managing Aging Transportation Infrastructure


Transportation asset management (TAM) is an approach to more than optimize the use of transportation resources. It may also be used to critically provide a wider decision framework to manage transportation infrastructure risk. TAM attempts to: 1) optimally allocate what resources are available to needed transportation investments, as well as, 2) manage and reduce risk to the agency and society in general. The first part of this paper is concerned with the adoption of TAM. It is unfortunate that with a crisis in transportation infrastructure management (i.e., in roadways, bridges, culverts, and slopes, etc.), there has been some resistance in adopting recognizing best practice management techniques, including TAM. TAM has in some instances been itself a high-risk exercise. Important lessons can be learnt from “Generation 1” TAM project efforts (including some significant project failures) and from “Generation 2” efforts that are now showing clear success. One of the TAM struggle points is that at the transportation agency level in North America there has been a struggle in many agencies to clearly delineate between: 1) what is transportation “Maintenance Management” (MM) and what is TAM, and 2) more so, how to migrate from one to another in a risk-minimized fashion. Both of these activities fit within a wider transportation Infrastructure Management (IM) framework. The use of robust TAM methods in North America is still relatively new, yet now is the time to make deliberate and bold strides in this area. In an age of limited resources, including available staff time, one of the fundamental issues is that the emphasis has been on TAM being a new approach. Field experience is that a more useful view is the use of a migration strategy from existing methods, techniques and tools to TAM to better manage both resources and risk. The second part of this paper briefly introduces some of the “green” ideas and benefits that may accrue with TAM, and points to this as the next generation of TAM development. Specifically, contemporary TAM (and the software systems that support it) is a powerful enabler for implementing practical eco-friendly policies and techniques. The paper draws on experience of undertaking TAM in a dozen DOT’s in Canada and the US to date. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Managing the Risk of Aging Infrastructure in the Face of Climate Change and Reduced Operating Budgets
Simon Lewis
Joe Garvey
Construction, Maintenance and operations