In 2003, 59 percent of Kent County's road system was in good (maintain) condition, with 27 percent in fair condition (requiring preservation) and 14 percent in poor condition (requiring reconstruction).
Rice and other preservation proponents know that for every $1 spent on preservation to maintain a road in fair condition, the investment can jump to $4 or $5 if the road is allowed to deteriorate to a poor condition; and they also know the drop from fair to poor condition happens quickly.
Rice and the Kent County Road Commission's preservation approach is to apply appropriate preservation treatments to roadways that are in good or fair condition to preserve the quality of the structures, as well as extend the life cycle of the structures. Preservation practices currently used in Kent County include crack sealing and patching, microsurfacing, chip seal, and thin hot mix asphalt overlays.
Since implementing a preservation program, the Commission shifted investment dollars from construction/expansion to preservation, and overall road conditions have improved significantly. In 1999, 29 percent of the county's road system required reconstructive work. In 2003, only 13 percent of the county's system was designated as a reconstruction candidate. By 2008, Rice projects that only 2 percent of the system will require reconstruction. But what's more significant about the preservation approach being used is that approximately 80 percent of the county's road system will be in good condition and remain in good condition for years to come.
Currently eight of the proposed 13 Midwestern states that were invited to join MPPP have made the commitment to do so, and representatives from their respective road agencies briefed MPPP conference attendees on their current preservation efforts. Some have extensive preservation programs, like that of Kansas, while others are in their infancy in implementing a preservation approach.
Minnesota spent $32 million on pavement maintenance in 2004, covering 2,900 lane miles (10 percent of its system) with preservation surface treatments like chip seal and microsurfacing.
Michigan has established a warranty program to monitor and police pavement maintenance contractors working on state-funded preservation projects.
Kansas' 20-year-old pavement management program continues to evolve as preservation proponents strive to put 72 percent of the state's road system in good condition. Kansas' preventive maintenance program is "ride oriented," which means if a preventive maintenance action can improve the ride for motorists, then it's approved.
Montana's annual $40 to $50 million preservation budget is let to projects that comply with the state's DOT's Guidelines for Nomination and Development of Pavement Projects.
Indianna utilizes its Pavement Management Groups to provide a systematic way of recommending, reviewing and approving proposed preservation projects. While the state's pavement preservation program still requires a lot of work in getting local, district and central DOT offices to agree on what, when and where the approach makes sense, a substantial portion of the state highway construction budget is earmarked for pavement maintenance/preservation.
North Dakota, on the other hand, is just starting to develop an investment strategy that will support a preventive maintenance program as a good investment in preserving the state's infrastructure assets.
Missouri is still operating in a reactive "worst first" mode in maintaining its road system. The DOT is currently trying to educate the public, as well as internal customers, on the benefits of initiating a preventive pavement maintenance program.
Illinois DOT recently initiated its pavement preservation approach by approving 27 project locations (three per each of its nine districts) to begin evaluating how preservation techniques like microsurfacing, chip sealing and slurry sealing extend the life cycle of its roads.