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Implementing a Pavement Management System for Low Volume Roads: Challenges and Successes


The United States Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP) provides engineering services for planning, design, construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of the roads and bridges providing access to federally-owned lands. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administers the FLHP of Fish and Wildlife system roads, Forest Highway system roads, Parkways and Park roads, and other Federal lands roads. As part of a pilot project under the Asset Management initiative, the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) retained Stantec Consulting (Stantec) to investigate the feasibility of implementing a pavement management system for the U.S Fish & Wildlife Services Regions 2 & 6 refuge roads, where the majority of the roads were low volume roads consisting of either gravel or native/primitive surfaces. The project team had previously implemented pavement management systems for other federal land road networks, including the National Park Service and the Forest Service. However, this was their first implementation of a pavement management system for unsurfaced pavement structures. This paper presents some of the challenges of developing a pavement management system for a large network of low volume roads with unpaved surfaces, including data collection and assembly, development of engineering models, and dissemination of information back to the refuges. The paper also presents successes throughout the project, including the development of short and long-term budget forecasts and awareness of further data collection needs. A network-level pavement condition survey had previously been conducted on all the road segments. Initial prediction models and decision trees were developed based on engineering experience and input from the project team. Two separate ground truth trips covering 10 refuges in five States was conducted to verify the models and proposed treatment options. It was found that the performance of unpaved roads was dramatically influenced by precipitation and maintenance practices. As such, the team developed maintenance and rehabilitation decision models based on recommended best practices for routine maintenance for different environmental zones based on field observations.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Leanne Whiteley-Lagace
Khaled Helali
Jason Dietz