Using the right systems and strategies can help your agency meet FAST Act requirements and secure federal funding
Many transportation agencies struggle with limited resources and legislative changes that often burden small teams on tight budgets. The wide-ranging mandates of the 2015 FAST Act (like its legislative precursor, MAP-21) continue to challenge agencies to be performance-driven in exchange for coveted federal funding. In compliance with MAP-21/Fast Act, every state DOT develops and submits a transportation asset management plan (TAMP) that sets performance targets. And thanks to advanced asset management software, it’s easier than ever to meet compliance requirements and deliver higher value to the public—while furnishing the data to secure those much-needed federal dollars.
1. Set Targets
One purpose of the FAST Act is to improve the allocation and return on investment of federal funds while helping agencies to monitor the effectiveness of their investments in achieving agency-defined goals. Transportation agencies must demonstrate how their infrastructure investments affect asset lifecycles and performance, while asset managers must accurately forecast the projects that will bring the most benefit to the public. Meeting these expectations begins with setting optimal performance targets. An advanced transportation asset management system can provide granular data analysis and decision support to simplify the complexities of the target setting. Using predictive modeling and detailed decision trees, asset managers can identify and set targets that deliver the highest infrastructure value at the most affordable price—getting the most bang for federal bucks.
2. Generate Meaningful Reports
The FAST Act requires agencies to submit multiple sets of progress reports over a 4-year performance period and a 10-year performance period. As transportation leaders know, documenting progress and compiling reports can be time-consuming and challenging. An advanced transportation asset management system can produce data visualizations and graphical reports to help asset managers create presentation-ready displays of progress at the asset, project, or strategic level. Using advanced reporting tools makes it possible to create more compelling and intuitive reports that justify funding allocations and investment decisions. Automated reporting helps asset managers spend more time on strategic decision-making and less time backtracking to complete documentation.
For example, an advanced bridge management system (BMS) can forecast network performance given the available budgets. These types of forecasts help agencies perform a gap analysis between the targeted performance and available funding. Thus, the agency can either allocate more funding to achieve the desired targets or adjust the targets.
3. Conduct Performance Assessments
As part of the MAP-21/FAST Act requirements, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued rules on how to assess and report pavement conditions in the National Highway Performance Program Measurement Areas. The rule states that the asset manager must conduct the condition performance assessment at the 0.1-mile uniform section level. While it is practical to report baseline performance from 0.1-mile uniform section data (in the pavement condition survey), it is not practical to plan pavement projects or develop strategies on such detailed road segmentation.
A pavement project plan is normally conducted on management sections, where the segmentations are determined from a variety of factors, such as construction history, judication boundary, pavement type, and feasibility of a roadway project, resulting in management sections of various lengths—usually more than 0.1 miles. This discrepancy can present a major challenge for pavement asset managers responsible for preparing a realistic TAMP and then projecting its impact on pavement performance.
To properly assess the impact on a pavement work plan created on management sections on the 0.1-mile uniform section, an iterative process is needed to reconcile the differences. With an advanced pavement management system (PMS), asset managers can create a work plan from the normal pavement management sections based on the set performance target and budget constraints. Asset managers can then apply the output work plan onto the 0.1-mile section to forecast the network performance and produce the various reports required for MAP-21. If the performance results differ from the original management section-based results, the asset manager can adjust the target to meet the requirements. And the process can be repeated until the pavement work plan is both practical and able to meet the performance target.
The right asset management solutions are critical for agencies to maximize the return on their infrastructure investments and achieve performance targets to secure performance-based federal funding.
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About the Authors
Mohammad Sayyar, Ph.D., PE, PMP, CSPO, is a Senior Consultant and Product Owner at AgileAssets Inc. For nearly 15 years, he has led complex infrastructure asset management projects with a special focus on the inspection, analysis, and maintenance of bridges and other structural assets. He holds a U.S. patent for nano-engineered structural joints and is a frequent contributor to national transportation engineering conferences and journals.
Ting Wang, Ph.D., P.E. is a Senior Product Owner at AgileAssets. He has worked extensively on pavement management, stormwater management, linear reference system, and implementation projects for the US and international clients. His activities include requirement gathering, business process layout and reviews, software reconciliation, data conversions, system configuration, testing, and training.