Many state DOTs have for years used accepted measures of highway pavement and bridge condition to report the percentages of their facilities that may be judged “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” Their assessments often provide a basis for budget and resource allocation discussions within the state, involving elected officials and the road-using public as well as responsible DOT officials.
Under the most recent federal highway legislation and subsequent rulemaking by FHWA, the state DOTs are required to submit—by October 1, 2018—a baseline report of data that will be used to prepare a comprehensive assessment of bridge and pavement condition on the states’ Federal-aid systems. The DOTs are finding that the FHWA assessment of pavement performance (percent of pavement in good, fair, or poor condition) may not match the states’ historical assessments. In particular, current work by state DOTs demonstrates that the federal pavement performance measures are resulting in reporting of higher percentage of pavement in fair condition—rather than good or poor—as compared to the states’ assessments. There is evidence that similar differences will occur for the system performance measures as well.
Such differences stem from the mathematics of how condition levels are defined and are explainable, but the explanation can be difficult to communicate quickly and succinctly to the public and decision makers. Research is needed to develop a messaging strategy and examples that DOTs can use to characterize and reconcile differences among states and FHWA in measurement and reporting of pavement condition and performance, to support consistent and accurate presentation of the information.
The objective of this research was to facilitate a peer exchange workshop of state DOT and FHWA personnel to develop an effective approach to presenting and explaining differences between state and FHWA reports of pavement and other asset condition information. The workshop will engage subject matter experts, performance managers, and communications professionals; and be documented in a report that AASHTO members and FHWA can use to guide their communications about transportation asset condition and performance.
The workshop was held at the Keck Center in September 2018. Documentation of the discussions and background materials prepared for the workshop were delivered to AASHTO in a report and slide presentation that agency personnel might use to help explain differences between the sets of performance measures.