Saturday, September 26, 2020

Maintaining Southlake’s Roadways Using Condition Ratings

Managing a road maintenance program involves more than filling potholes.

Southlake has more than 197 city-maintained miles of roadway in its system. To ensure proper investment in the system, segments are prioritized for maintenance work by assessing roadway conditions. This allows the City to manage year-over-year costs and ensure that conditions are maintained at an appropriate level.

“Last year the city allocated $1,000,000 to maintain roadways,” said Rob Cohen, Director of Public Works. “It’s necessary to conduct a condition assessment to help us determine the best way to spend those dollars.”

Pavement condition is measured using criteria developed by the Asphalt Institute. The criteria are used to evaluate roadway segments based on thirteen defects found in pavement surfaces. Ride condition or roughness and surface distress are key considerations. Ultimately a pavement quality index (PQI) rating is assigned.

“Typical values for newly constructed pavement range from 9.5 to 10.0,” said Cohen. He noted that rehabilitation is needed when the rating falls to 7.0 or below.

The City aims to maintain its system at a minimum PQI rating of 7.8. For 2019, Southlake’s system scored an overall 8.2.

“Each year, we assess half of our public streets to ensure that all of Southlake’s roads are evaluated at least every two years,” said Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher. “Our work program is built around condition ratings and field inspections.”

Condition assessment and related maintenance budgeting is also a critical aspect of the City’s financial audit.

“We are required to report the extent to which we have invested in capital assets, including roads,” said Thatcher. “It’s important to show that we are managing our infrastructure in a financially responsible way and not deferring maintenance or underinvesting.”

Using a method to evaluate road conditions and invest to maintain streets at an acceptable level is a vital infrastructure management practice, as well as a component of strong financial management.

“Investing in roads at the right time can save you money in the long run,” Cohen said.