Seven years after initiating a formalized road maintenance/preservation program, the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) adopted a "Long-Range Strategic Investment Plan for Primary Roads" in 2006 in order to establish a vision for the primary road system that will guide investment decisions through 2016, according to Steven Warren, KCRC's deputy director.
"This comprehensive Asset Management Program helps to coordinate KCRC's major improvement projects with the development plans of townships, cities and villages within Kent County (which includes Grand Rapids, MI), as well as with improvement plans of adjoining county road commissions and the Michigan Department of Transportation," Warren states.
KCRC's long-range vision is to:
- Achieve 70 percent of the road system in "good" condition by 2016 through preservation and reconstruction activities,
- Maintain good bridge conditions through annual inspection and timely investment in repairs, and
- Expand roadway capacity to reduce congestion along several corridors and intersections to maintain safety and to accommodate the county's growing population and expanding economy.
KCRC's long-range plan calls for 50 to 60 miles of annual preventive maintenance improvements throughout the road network to help the agency achieve its "good" condition objective.
The KCRC's Maintenance Division is responsible for maintaining all state highways in Kent County under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. The county's Maintenance Division is also responsible for maintaining all county primary roads, with major reconstruction, overlay and bridge replacement projects handled through the Road Commission's Engineering Division and contracted to private companies; and smaller projects executed by the Maintenance Division. The Maintenance Division is also responsible for maintaining all local roads throughout the county. In total, KCRC is responsible for maintaining a safe, efficient and convenient system of county roads, consisting of 1,968 miles that are classified as either primary or local roads. The Long-Range Strategic Investment Plan only covers the 645 miles of primary roads in Kent County.
These are the main routes of travel and are generally located outside the major cities, but do not include Interstate Freeways or State Highways. KCRC shares responsibility with townships for funding construction and maintenance activities of the 1,323 miles of designated local roads.
KCRC's priority is to preserve and prolong the service life of the existing roadway system. This is accomplished by making improvements that address surface deterioration before it becomes too severe and the road base is damaged. Improvements consist of two general types:
Surface Treatments encompass a variety of activities to help prevent moisture from penetrating the road subsurface layers. This includes sealing cracks in the pavement with a black rubberized material. Surface treatments also include applying a thin new layer of material over the entire roadway surface to seal out moisture, cover patches, and provide a new wearing surface.
Resurfacing is generally for higher volume roads and where the surface has become more severely distressed. In many cases, the existing surface is milled off or pulverized and compacted, prior to the placement of a new hot-mix asphalt overlay.
Through KCRC's Pavement Management Program, annual assessments of existing and projected road surface conditions are made using a MicroPAVER-based data collection system to assign a Pavement Condition Index value in determining the appropriate type and timing of cost-effective repairs. The Pavement Management Program also enables KCRC to project future road conditions in order to analyze alternative investment scenarios that will help achieve its system condition goals.
In 2005, just six years after KCRC implemented its pavement preservation program, 62 percent of the primary road network was rated good or maintain condition, 28 percent in fair or preserve condition and 10 percent in poor or reconstruct condition.