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Comparing Mathematical Optimization, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), and Ranking Solutions for Application to Pavement Preservation Programs


Pavement preservation is “the application of engineering and fiscal management using cost-effective treatments and existing funds to control the future condition of pavement networks” (NCPP, 2019). The implementation of an effective pavement preservation program at a network level requires a comprehensive process comprising a detailed network inventory, up-to-date pavement condition data, a catalogue of available preservation treatments, appropriate deterioration models for both “do nothing” and with a range of treatment scenarios, and an estimation of costs and outcomes for all possible rehabilitation alternatives. These inputs are all used to formulate a detailed life cycle cost analysis model of the road network to facilitate the allocation of the limited renewal funds available. Fund allocation, the last step of the process, is the focus of this paper and generally involves two types of decisions: project-level selection of the appropriate type of treatment method to be applied to each segment (e.g., micro-surfacing, mill and overlay, or full depth reclamation) and network-level decisions of selecting the right road segments at the right time over a planning horizon (typically 5 to 10 years). Fund-allocation decisions represent a major challenge for most municipalities and transportation agencies, where a small improvement in investment efficiency can be translated into millions of dollars in cost savings. In addition, the process for fund allocation needs to be transparent, defensible and technically robust. Different methods of decision-making can be used to arrive at a final fund allocation plan. These methods can range from simple ranking solutions typically based on the condition status of road segments, to more advanced multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods that consider multiple attributes of a road network to arrive at a decision, to formal optimization methods that use rigorous mathematical analysis to arrive at the best possible outcome based on defined criteria. This paper discusses the fundamental assumptions and procedures used in each of these decision-making methods and compares their performance and quality of solution to identify the advantages and disadvantages associated with each method. The paper presents a number of case studies from Canadian municipalities that are currently applying advanced optimization solutions in their pavement preservation programs and discusses the real-life implications of applying effective fund allocation methods, in terms of road network performance improvements and cost savings.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Innovations in Pavement Management, Engineering and Technologies (S)
Rashedi, R., Maher, M.