Goals

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) wanted to implement a visualization tool within its deployment of AgileAssets Pavement Analyst, an advanced pavement management system (PMS) known internally at Caltrans as PaveM. The value of the visualization tool would be to facilitate the pavement project review process.

A typical PMS provides a tabular list of recommended projects, without displaying the relationships between the recommended projects and the currently programmed, under-construction, and as-built projects. A visualization tool would enable engineers to clearly identify these relationships, including gaps and overlaps, and to adjust projects effectively before committing funds to them.

Caltrans’ goals were to develop the tool, integrate it with its existing PMS, and use the integrated system to accelerate and improve project selection through advanced data analysis and visualization.

In partnership with the University of California Pavement Research Center (UCPRC), Caltrans moved to develop an automated visualization tool called H-Chart, short for Highway Chart.

Challenges

Caltrans manages one of the largest state-owned road networks in the U.S., including more than 50,000 lane miles of roads and 13,063 state highway bridges (as well as the inspections of more than 12,200 local bridges). Caltrans also permits more than 400 public-use airports and special-use heliports, provides inter-city rail services, and owns or controls 350,000 acres of right-of-way.*

Caltrans faced several challenges in developing and implementing the H-Chart project visualization tool.

First, the agency needed to manage external development of H-Chart with the UCPRC. Caltrans required H-Chart to meet specific requirements. It had to be automated, efficient, and highly functional. The tool also had to be able to process large sets of pavement data. In addition, H-Chart had to facilitate calibration, validation, and further improvement of Caltrans’ PMS.

Once H-Chart was developed, Caltrans needed to integrate the tool successfully with its PMS to access data for visualization and evaluation.

*Sources: Caltrans, Division of Maintenance, 2018; CA.gov, About Caltrans, 2018.

Solutions

With advanced analytical capabilities in place via PaveM, Caltrans used Pavement Analyst to provide pavement data to the H-Chart visualization tool.

Key aspects of the H-Chart implementation included:

  1. Integrating Pavement Analyst with H-Chart
  2. Configuring Pavement Analyst to provide pavement data to H-Chart
  3. Configuring H-Chart to efficiently process and visually map large sets of pavement data

“As a data visualization and decision-making support tool, H-Chart helps maximize pavement asset value by improving project planning.”

- Zhongren Wang, PhD, PE Supervising Transportation Engineer, Caltrans

Benefits

The implementation of the H-Chart visualization tool has greatly facilitated Caltrans’ pavement project review and selection process. The tool enables engineers to quickly identify project gaps, overlaps, and appropriate treatments while also helping to prioritize and select candidate projects.

H-Chart reduces staff time required for project reviews. Engineers can visualize pavement condition, as-built projects, programmed projects, and PaveM-recommended projects in one chart—then quickly evaluate, compare, adjust, and select projects for future programming
and planning.

Caltrans staff can use H-Chart in the office or in the field. As a decision-making support tool, H-Chart helps maximize pavement asset value by improving project planning. It is also instrumental for management briefings and public education purposes—providing value to a wide range of stakeholders.

For its H-Chart visualization tool implementation, Caltrans was recognized as a nominee for the AgileAssets Excellence in Infrastructure Asset Management (AXIAM) Award.

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