Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 48-07. Investment Prioritization Methods for Low Volume Roads

Current Transportation Asset Management (TAM) practices use asset condition and utilization metrics such as the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) and Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) to prioritize the allocation of funds for preservation, maintenance, repair, and replacement projects. In theory, these metrics permit agency asset managers to direct scarce available funding to those projects that will result in the maximum net improvement to network condition. However, they do not measure the impact of individual projects on the economy because they assume that the alternative that has the highest AADT will translate to the highest positive impact. This assumption has been found to be incorrect in states with a high percentage of low volume roads and a high percentage of trucks that transport not only agricultural and industrial products to market, but also serve energy-resource-wise sectors. In these cases, the net impact of network improvement is directly proportional to the value of the commodities being transported to the state’s economy. A recent study by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) investigated the use of a metric used by the World Bank to prioritize funding for aid in developing countries. The metric is termed the Social Return on Investment (SROI) and takes a holistic view of the economic impact of improvements on low volume roads and bridges. The study used SROI to justify funding the replacement of a bridge that carried 80 AADT over a competing project to replace a bridge that carried 800 AADT because the lower volume bridge serviced a much greater area of corn and soy bean acreage and eliminated a much longer detour for heavy vehicles that could not cross the weight limit posted bridge. Additionally, the use of a return on investment methodology creates the ability to better articulate the outcome of the decision-making process to stakeholders, such as legislators, because it does not require specialized knowledge (i.e. pavement engineering for Pavement Condition Index (PCI)) to understand. SROI is merely one metric that extends the ability of the agency asset manager to intelligently make asset improvement funding decisions. There are many other such metrics available in the literature and potentially in use by transportation agencies. The objectives of this synthesis are to: (1) Identify metrics available to quantify an asset’s economic impact; (2) Identify the tools, such as databases, software, and other instruments that have been used effectively on projects; (3) Synthesize current decision parameters for asset management for low volume assets; (4) Identify and document other procedures and processes that integrate innovative metrics into the decision process along with traditional metrics like PCI and AADT; and (5) Identify and document proven procedures for applying these metric to preservation and maintenance projects. The synthesis will explore agency outreach efforts that have been used successfully to justify/explain the use of innovative metrics in the asset preservation and maintenance fund allocation process to external stakeholders such as highway commissioners, legislators, and the public. Case examples of successful innovative metrics and agency outreach efforts will be included in the synthesis. Gaps in knowledge and current practice will be noted, along with research needs to address these gaps. Information will be gathered by literature review and a survey of state DOTs and Canadian provincial transportation agencies. The literature review will include a review of both international and domestic asset management information.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 48-07

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Gause, Jo

  • Start Date: 20160509
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40816

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01598981
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 48-07
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 11 2016 1:00AM