The National Academies

NCHRP 23-24 [Anticipated]

Develop Methods to Allow Agencies to Incorporate Quantitative Risk Assessment at Project and Network Level

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Performance Based Management
Funds: $500,000
Staff Responsibility: Camille Crichton-Sumners
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Managing risk is a critical component of asset management. On a day-to-day basis transportation asset managers spend much of their time responding to or mitigating a large number of risks, which may range from external events that damage transportation infrastructure to unplanned changes to budget or workloads resulting from unexpected events. Various recent and on-going research efforts aim to improve approaches for risk management for transportation agencies. However, most of these efforts treat risk management as a high-level activity. Further research is needed to develop quantitative, repeatable approaches at the appropriate staff level, to assess and identify the highest priority risks that state departments of transportation face in managing physical assets and allow risk and resilience to be on par with traditional performance measures. High-risk threats to be studied include, but are not limited to, extreme events (e.g., earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, avalanches, tornadoes); asset failure (structural and operational); financial, strategic, political, environmental (e.g., sea level rise, flooding); technological; and social justice risks.

This project aims to develop such approaches to assess risks (e.g., financial, strategic, operational, political, environmental, technological, social justice risks) and incorporate them into life-cycle analysis and planning efforts. Specifically the project objectives are to (1) generate risk identification techniques to determine high-risk threats at project and network levels; (2) develop quantitative, repeatable approaches for assessing likelihood and consequences for these threats; and (3) develop visual, interactive characterization methods (e.g., dashboards) to reflect an agency’s level of risk and the effectiveness of proposed mitigation actions.

While existing reporting mechanisms allow agencies to see the parts of their network that are in good and poor condition, risks associated with different threats and the impact of failure are not reported as an explicit performance measure. Competing design documents, financial implications, legal concerns, maintenance practices, focus on building new capacity rather than managing existing infrastructure, and other factors that affect decision-making procedures may counter-act risk-based Transportation Asset Management (TAM) practices. Issues related to social justice and equity, and consequences of failures make risk-based TAM even more important. Creating harmony in the TAM decision-making space in consideration of risk and resilience represents an urgent need. A practical, quantitative, and repeatable risk assessment process could play a major role in addressing this need.

Direction from the AASHTO Special Committee on Research & Innovation:  This research should consider NCHRP Project 08-118, “Risk Assessment Techniques for Transportation Asset Management”, NCHRP Project 23-09, “Scoping Study to Develop the Basis for a Highway Standard to Conduct an All-Hazards Risk and Resilience Analysis,” and NCHRP 20-125, “Strategies for Incorporating Resilience into Transportation Networks.”


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