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25 CHAPTER THREE Applying Bridge Management To Agency Decision Making Overview characterized by a stronger linkage between public policy and transportation system planning and programming; a greater interest in quantitative measures and criteria of per- This chapter presents findings on bridge management and formance and accountability; increased roles of actors other agency decision making that were gained through the study than the state DOTs in planning, programming, and shaping survey, literature review, and interviews. There is consider- the nature of selected projects; greater funding flexibility, able material regarding past and current bridge management prompting a need to investigate trade-offs in resource alloca- practices and how these processes and systems are applied to tion among programs and projects; and innovative financing agency decision making. The chapter is organized as follows: mechanisms involving the private as well as the public sec- tor. Adding to this dynamic management environment were · The historical perspective outlines past bridge man- continuing trends in broad, sometimes conflicting policy agement practices and their applications to agency directions; competition among agency programs for scarce decision making based on several previous studies. resources; increasing emphasis on system preservation and This background provides a context for the current more efficient system operation; and uncertainties in sev- study findings. eral pertinent management areas, including funding, project · The section on current practices describes today's budgets and schedules, and policy shifts following new state bridge management processes relating to condition and administrations and DOT executive turnover. NCHRP Syn- performance measures and targets, analysis of bridge thesis 243 thus addressed methods used by DOTs for prior- needs in the context of available funding, resource ity setting, and the types of quantifiable measures of policy allocation and prioritization, use of economic methods, objectives and system performance that they applied, among and accountability and public communication. other topics (Neumann 1997). · The next section on BMSs and their application to deci- sion making presents additional information on current The NCHRP Synthesis 243 survey was structured to elicit practices, focusing on the application of current BMS information comprehensively and flexibly. Survey design capabilities and information to planning, program- incorporated open-ended responses that were not limited to ming, and resource allocation. particular types of assets or programs, allowing agencies to · A final section on organizational responsibilities sum- describe their methods and management systems exactly as marizes survey findings on those DOT units or other they perceived them. Agency responses were therefore broadly agencies that play material roles in various categories cast; for example, encompassing pavement, bridge, safety, of bridge program and project decisions. congestion, maintenance, drainage, and highway manage- ment; public transit and rail system management; major proj- Additional survey-related information supporting the ects; program management and value engineering; economic findings in this chapter is contained in Appendixes D and E. development impacts; environmental impacts; and a number of state-specific management systems or priority methods. The results cited here include only those subsets of information that Historical Perspective are relevant to this bridge management study. Synthesis Topic 27-09 The NCHRP Synthesis 243 results established useful background and context for this current study. Conducted NCHRP Synthesis Topic 27-09 (Synthesis of Highway Prac- more than 10 years ago, the results of this synthesis can be tice 243 1997) examined how state DOTs had responded to compared with the current results to see where changes in the planning and programming provisions of the Intermodal practice and perspective, if any, have occurred. Overall, 39 Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and state DOTs submitted responses to the NCHRP Synthesis other factors that at that time were influencing capital pro- 243 survey, although the numbers responding to any specific gramming and project selection. The passage of ISTEA con- question sometimes varied from this total. The sections here tributed to a more dynamic decision-making environment focus on bridge-related findings, with corresponding data
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26 for pavement management systems (PMS) and safety man- sis on asset condition and performance exceeded results for agement systems (SMS) included for comparison. other program areas, which are not shown in Figure 6, such as capacity and safety measures. The importance of condi- Quantifiable Objectives and Performance Measures tion and performance of bridges and other assets as intended guidance for capital programming decision making was Participants in the NCHRP Synthesis 243 survey were asked clear. These results also implied the importance of periodic whether they used quantifiable measures of program objec- inspections of assets in keeping condition and performance tives or system performance--that is, measures of a pro- information current and accurate. gram's impact on facility condition or service. Thirty-two DOTs (86% of respondents to this question) indicated that Only a handful of agencies cited measures involving bene- they used such measures or had them under development. fit-cost, value-for-cost, and needs prioritization (e.g., relational These agencies were asked further to identify the types of evaluation of state needs). These measures were described gen- measures they employ. Figure 6 shows selected measures and erally and not identified with any particular asset. The implica- the percentages of the 32 affirmative respondents that identi- tion is that economic or needs-related measures were not widely fied each as one that they either used or were developing. used in establishing objectives or performance measures. FIGURE 6 Measures of program objectives and system performance (Source: Neumann 1997). Note: Because respondents could name more than one type of measure, data do not sum to 100%. *No specific asset specified. The results in Figure 6 demonstrate a strong leaning One agency identified the number of new bridges as a mea- toward condition ratings for bridges and other assets. Bridge sure of objectives or performance. This agency also cited a cor- safety and condition ratings were identified by 56% of the responding measure of pavement output in kilometers built or agencies; pavement-related measures, by 63%; and suffi- resurfaced. NCHRP Synthesis 243 noted that whereas only a ciency or deficiency ratings (pavements or bridges), by 38%. few states volunteered productivity or program-delivery mea- Five agencies also mentioned general highway system condi- sures such as these, such measures historically have been an tion ratings, with no particular asset specified. This empha- important component of tracking program accomplishments,
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27 and they likely will continue in that role. Although not dis- 55% to 75% of state DOTs were using these management cussed in NCHRP Synthesis 243, the few examples of deliv- systems to develop goals (likely based on current and pro- ery-based measures may also have been the result, in part, of jected condition and performance) and to identify projects increased attention to results-based rather than output-based and support project prioritization. Although the application measures, and in the bridge case specifically, to a growing for these two uses was greater than those for program fund- emphasis on preservation and maintenance. ing levels or capital maintenance trade-offs (for BMS, less than 25% and 15%, respectively), the results nevertheless Use of Bridge Management Systems for Decision Making indicate that 25% to 45% of DOTs were not using their sys- tems even for program goals or for prioritization. NCHRP A specific objective of NCHRP Synthesis 243 was to inves- Synthesis 243 explains this lack of use for decision support tigate how agencies met post-ISTEA planning and program- in the following ways: ming requirements by applying management systems and It appears that many DOTs are using management related data. For example, pavement and BMSs were already systems primarily to record and monitor infrastructure in use by a number of agencies and, in some cases with PMS, conditions or are experimenting with different potential for many years before the passage of ISTEA. Although the applications but have not determined what, if any, role NCHRP Synthesis 243 study was conducted after the use of the systems may play as decision support tools. [When compared to the number of agencies reporting that they these and other management systems was once again made have management systems, far] fewer agencies report the voluntary, the study found that 87% and 79% of responding use of management systems for management decision states had PMS and BMS, respectively, already available or making on a program level (Neumann 1997, p. 22). under development. Much lower percentages of agencies (in Some of this lack of use of the PMS or BMS to examine all cases less than 40%) reported developing or using other capital/maintenance funding tradeoffs reflects the management systems such as safety (SMS), intermodal, and varying approaches that transportation agencies have to congestion management. The key question that the NCHRP the management of capital and maintenance funds. Eight DOTs report that their budgets for the two activities are Synthesis 243 study wanted to address, however, was the completely segregated. Fifteen DOTs ... [fully fund] a extent to which these systems were actually being used in specified level of preventive maintenance/preservation capital programming and project selection. The survey for ... and then apply the remainder to capital expenditures. the 1997 report therefore asked DOTs which management In contrast, six DOTs reported ... [that they fully match] available federal aid, and then allocate remaining state systems they had and, of these, which were used in the fol- resources to maintenance. While not specifically reported lowing programming decisions: by any survey respondents, some agencies' management systems may not have the technical capability to look at · Developing goals; that is, desired system condition or both capital and maintenance actions (Neumann 1997, p. 23). service levels · Establishing program funding levels · Identifying specific projects and setting project priorities Survey respondents were asked about their perceptions · Evaluating capital maintenance allocations. on limits and barriers to management system use for deci- sion making. Comments highlighted four general problem Of the 39 survey respondents, 38 reported having at least areas (Neumann 1997, pp. 2324): one management system operational or under development. Responses for selected systems are shown in Figure 7. In addi- · Problems with data collection, including the need for tion to the BMS, selected other systems have been included that more timely data acquisition and analysis and the dif- may address bridge projects; only a handful of states reported ficulty of data integration. these types of highway network or project management appli- · Incomplete system development or implementation, cations. Figure 7 shows that PMS, BMS, and SMS were the thus limiting functionality and requiring continuing most widely implemented systems at the time of this survey. service needs. These three systems were evaluated in terms of their use in the · Limited usefulness of management systems to the four program management functions described earlier. programming process, which reflected issues in a number of areas; for example, statutory requirements Figure 8 shows the rates of application of each of the for infrastructure and the use of funds; the need to three systems to the four programming functions at the incorporate judgment regarding policy, liability, and time of the NCHRP Synthesis 243 survey. In each case, the financial capability with the technical data; the need percentage using the system for decision support is com- for more subjective or qualitative judgments and deci- puted on the basis of those states that already had, or were sion factors that management systems did not provide; developing, the particular system; that is, the percentages the adequacy of the then-current programming pro- of BMS use are based on 31 agencies (see Figure 7); for cess; and a judgment that the benefits of management PMS, 33 agencies; and for SMS, 14 agencies. Roughly systems were not worth the additional expense.
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28 FIGURE 7 Agencies having management systems (Source: Neumann 1997). Note: *No specific asset specified. · Resource limitations on developing and implement- ciency or deficiency ratings, bridge and pavement programs/ ing these management systems. projects were the predominant applications. It is likely that PMS and BMS assisted many agencies in this process. Other Priority Methods programs or projects (e.g., for safety, traffic, or major proj- ects) were each prioritized by this method in only one or two The NCHRP Synthesis 243 survey gathered additional states in the survey respondent pool. details on a specific management function: prioritization. State DOTs were asked about their quantitative methods The other prioritization methods in Figure 9 were like- of priority-setting and to which programs or projects these wise used by a significant percentage of responding DOTs: applied. Methods potentially relevant to the current bridge almost 70% applied benefit-cost analysis and more than management study included sufficiency or deficiency rat- 50% reported using the other methods shown. However, the ings, benefit-cost analysis, priority given to particular pro- program or project categories to which these methods were grams or their economic benefit (among other factors), and applied were quite different and did not include significant cost-effectiveness measures. Survey results are shown in bridge-related use. NCHRP Synthesis 243 made the follow- Figure 9. ing observations: Benefit-cost analysis is most frequently used to evaluate The first response under each method in Figure 9 shows safety projects or highway improvement projects. Four the percentage of the 39 responding agencies that reported [reporting] states use cost-benefit primarily for major using that method. For example, 74% (29 agencies) used highway capacity improvements or high-cost projects. ... sufficiency or deficiency ratings for prioritization. The addi- Cost-effectiveness approaches and other priority ratings [in Figure 9] are used across a broad range of categories tional responses show the extent to which that method was with no one type of project being the primary focus used for specific programs or projects. In the case of suffi- (Neumann 1997, p. 20).
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29 FIGURE 8 Use of management systems (Source: Neumann 1997). Additional Comments FHWA Survey of Bridge Management System Practices Throughout its discussion of the programming process, In 1999, Small and colleagues presented preliminary results NCHRP Synthesis 243 observed that capital programming of an FHWA survey of agency use of BMSs. The survey ultimately reflects a mix of technical, policy, and financial focused on activities including strategic and long-range considerations. Whereas the previous findings have presented planning, STIP and Transition Improvement Program (TIP) policy objectives, performance measures, and prioritization development, and project-level planning. It was supplemented primarily in technical terms, these functions operate in a much by in-depth follow-up discussions with state DOT personnel. broader context in actual decision making on projects and In all, 40 survey responses had been processed at the time of programs. Perceived transportation needs; funding sources paper preparation, and 26 had been finalized with the follow- and constraints; transportation implications of statewide pub- up interviews. The paper by Small and colleagues discussed lic policy; engineering philosophies regarding design, con- these 26 results, comprising 24 Pontis states and two non- struction, maintenance, and replacement; the technical rigor Pontis states that used their own agency-specific BMS. Key desired in planning and programming; and a host of other findings of this review follow (Small et al. 1999). factors all contribute to differences in state practice. NCHRP Synthesis 243 also noted that state DOTs differ in their degree Custodians of BMS Data and Users of BMS Information of centralization of capital programming decisions. Although program priority decisions are often made centrally, some NBI and BMS data were universally maintained within agencies adopt a hybrid approach, with some program deci- DOTs by the central office. Bridge management activities sions being made in the central office, others by regions or were either concentrated in a single organizational unit or districts. NCHRP Synthesis 243 also observed that some agen- dispersed across several DOT offices. The primary users cies were moving toward a more decentralized approach to of BMS information were bridge engineers and bridge capital programming generally throughout their states. maintenance engineers. The two non-Pontis states reported
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30 the use of their systems by agency bridge managers and met- · Seven reported using the system as part of the bridge ropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for STIP and TIP management process. development. Among the 24 Pontis states: · Four reported using the system solely within the bridge or maintenance section. FIGURE 9 Priority methods reported by state DOTs (Source: Neumann 1997).
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31 · Three reported using the system to produce results at reported using only the SR or number of deficient bridges as the request of planners, district or regional personnel, performance measures, singly or in combination with each county engineers, MPOs, and others. other. Other agencies reported using a variety of measures, · Fifteen agencies (including some listed earlier) reported such as the following: that no one outside the bridge or maintenance sections had requested results from the BMS to date. · Number of Bridges Needing Work · The Pontis Health Index Long-Range and Strategic Planning: System Users · SD, SR, and other measures such as Number of Bridge and Goals Postings · Number of Deficiencies plus Load Carrying Capacity Modern, full-featured BMSs are well suited to strategic and · Bridges in "Safe" condition as determined by agency long-term planning. These systems can deal with strategic formula. goals, targets, and investment levels; identification of sys- tem-level problems and trends; and suggestions of long-term Use of BMS for STIP/TIP Development strategies and optimal actions to achieve the stated goals. Key findings among the 26 completed states were as follows: State DOTs develop STIPs that provide intermediate-range (typically 3 to 7 years) plans and program cost estimates · Agencies using a strategic planning process. Fifteen of that support long-term goals and are the basis for near-term the 26 agencies, or more than half, had a strategic plan- programs and budgets. The survey results indicated that the ning process with a bridge component. In 9 of these bridge component of these documents is prepared in several 15 agencies, the strategic plan was developed by the ways; for example, by planning or intermodal programs bridge or maintenance section or by the chief engineer. offices (7 of 26 agencies), bridge or BMS offices (9 agencies), In 5 of the 15, the strategic planning process involved districts or regions (2 agencies), and in the remaining agen- high-level, external bodies; for example, transportation cies by committees comprising representatives of several boards or commissions, or committees encompassing offices. Proposed projects and estimated costs in the STIP are DOT as well as outside personnel. developed using prioritization procedures plus engineering · Eleven of these 15 agencies expressed goals quantita- judgment among all agencies surveyed. However, only four tively, but they varied in their practice. Examples of agencies reported using their BMS for STIP development. goals included the following: Three of these agencies applied their BMS to develop lists Reduce the number of bridges with health index of bridge replacement projects, although one agency used its below a minimum level. BMS to estimate costs and budget levels for various bridge Reduce the number of deficient bridges by 5% per actions. The other agencies did not apply their BMS to STIP year. development, but five planned to do so in the future. Have no more than a defined percentage of struc- tures with SRs less than 50. Project-Level Planning and Programming Improve a specified number of bridges each year. Impose specific goals to reflect legislative proposals. Project-level planning and programming moves proposed · Four of these 15 agencies did not use quantitative goals bridge work into design, construction, maintenance, or oper- in their planning process, but rather relied on generally ation. Based on projected annual or biennial budget levels and understood priorities; for example, to reduce or elimi- bridge projects and actions in the STIP, bridge program man- nate structural and functional deficiencies, reduce the agers prioritize and implement bridge work. For many agen- number of load-restricted bridges, and so forth. cies, the STIP itself defines the annual or biennial program. · The 11 agencies without formally defined planning goals Agencies that do not obtain prioritized programs directly followed FHWA's suggested bridge network targets as from the STIP rely on either the SR or agency-specific pri- guidelines for reducing bridge deficiencies. These FHWA oritization procedures together with engineering judgment targets recommend minimum percentages of acceptable and inspectors' recommendations to build their programs. (i.e., nondeficient) bridges on NHS and non-NHS systems. The four agencies that use their BMS for STIP development Several of these reporting states had bridge populations also use their systems for project programming. Almost all that met or exceeded the FHWA acceptability levels. agencies reported that they intended to use their BMS for project-level programming in the future. Long-Range and Strategic Planning: Performance Measures and Data Status of Pontis Implementation The performance measures used by responding states were A paper describing the status of Pontis BMS implementation concerned primarily with bridge condition and structural as of 2002 provided further insight into how agencies were or functional performance. Nineteen of the 26 agencies using BMSs more than 10 years after the passage of ISTEA
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32 (Robert et al. 2003). Licensees of the Pontis BMS were eval- · Six agencies (17.6%) used only the Programming mod- uated to identify U.S.DOTs that (1) used Pontis primarily to ule for network analysis of bridge needs and system- manage a network of bridges (as opposed to other primary wide optimization of bridge investment strategy. uses such as training and research) and (2) had a confirmed · Three agencies (8.8%) used only the Project Planning production database already implemented. Of the 46 domes- module. tic licensees, 34 met these two criteria and were profiled in · Eight agencies (23.6%) used both the Programming this study. Characteristics of Pontis usage in each of these and Project Planning modules. agencies was gathered through telephone interviews, sup- plemented by information gathered at the 2002 Pontis User Robert and colleagues observed that the use of the Project Training Meeting and from the Pontis Support Center. Planning module reported in this survey had increased since the previous survey of Pontis customers in 2000. Survey Findings Four of the 26 agencies did not use Pontis to manage their The 34 selected agencies used Pontis regularly, but for dif- bridge inspection data, as mentioned earlier. Two of these ferent purposes. This variety in usage is shown in Figure agencies collected and processed bridge inspection data 10 in terms of particular Pontis modules (Inspection Data using systems that were integrated with the Pontis database. Management or "Inspection," Programming Simulation or The other two agencies used external systems that included "Programming," and "Project Planning"). All but four of the procedures to export needed data into Pontis. agencies (approximately 88%) used Pontis to manage their bridge inspection data. Among these, 17 agencies (50% of System Customization the 34 total) used Pontis solely to input and manage bridge inspection data through the Inspection module. These 17 Customization played a key role in enabling agencies to agencies thus did not apply the advanced functionality of the incorporate Pontis effectively within their business pro- system to simulate and optimize network-level programs or cesses (Robert et al. 2003). This ability to customize the conduct project planning. The breakdown of Pontis module default features and functions within Pontis was important, usage among the other 17 agencies that did use its advanced because agency bridge management philosophies, business functions is given in Figure 10 as follows: processes, and decision criteria could vary considerably. FIGURE 10 Pontis functionality used by licensing agencies (Source: Robert et al. 2003).
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33 The reported degree of customization among licensees was inspection data, and added functionality to the Pontis significant, as shown in Figure 11, with most agencies per- database to automatically convert the KDOT spe- forming moderate to extensive customization. Forty-seven cialized inspection data to the required NBI formats. percent (16 agencies) made moderate customizations; that KDOT also developed an interface between the Pontis is, enhancements that could be accomplished using built- database and the agency's centralized system that in Pontis features or through Infomaker, a product used to stores information on bridges, pavements, and other create reports. Thirty-five percent (12 agencies) completed transportation assets. extensive customization, including developing applets or · The Illinois DOT (IDOT) customized Pontis behavior external applications to work with the Pontis database. As of to support bridge programming and project planning. the time of this survey, more than one-third of the agencies The agency defined its own bridge elements in lieu of had used all of the available basic approaches to customiz- the standard CoRe elements discussed in chapter two to ing Pontis, including reports, desktop layouts, forms, system match its procedures for bridge inspection and record- adjustments, and additional applets or applications. Eighteen ing of costs and quantities. It customized the Pontis percent (six agencies) had performed either no customiza- desktop layouts and database to incorporate additional tion or minor customization; for example, adjusting bridge data for network programming. IDOT also developed element definitions. an extensive set of program simulation rules to ensure that the project recommendations by Pontis were con- Examples of how agencies were relating customized sistent with agency practice. enhancements to their specific business-process needs were · Virginia DOT likewise enhanced Pontis program as follows (Robert et al. 2003): simulation rules to produce results that better reflected agency practices and preferences. · The South Dakota DOT made a number of enhance- · Florida DOT added new elements to be able to manage ments to accommodate state-specific bridge data that other assets through Pontis, such as tunnels and sign struc- were not included in the NBI database or the Pontis tures. It has provided additional functionality in Pontis default data. These changes included six new tables through agency-specific analytic modeling for program- in the Pontis database and new forms for entering and ming and budgeting (Sobanjo and Thompson 2007). editing these data. Other enhancements included cus- tomized database security, a custom desktop layout, Many of these advances promoted exemplary asset man- and several new procedures to facilitate and manage agement practices. Agencies also undertook database and data exchanges between the Pontis database and the information technology (IT) enhancements that likewise DOT's mainframe system, and between central office promoted better asset management. These efforts included and field office bridge databases. data integration between Pontis and other applications as implemented by Michigan, Mississippi, and Kansas DOTs, and moves toward applying Pontis as a thin-client applica- tion by California DOT, Montana DOT, and Florida DOT (Robert et al. 2003). NCHRP Project 20-57 As part of its development of new analytic tools to support asset management, NCHRP Project 20-57 (NCHRP Report 545 2005) researched existing IT capabilities and perceived needs and requirements for new systems. Broad-based infor- mation was gathered from the DOT user community through literature reviews and discussions with potential system users at two asset management forums in the summer of 2002. More focused, detailed information was obtained through FIGURE 11 Degree of Pontis customization (Source: Robert structured interviews with representatives of 10 state DOTs et al. 2003). (California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Wisconsin) · The Kansas DOT (KDOT) added more than 100 agency- in the summer and fall of 2002. The information gathered in specific bridge data items--essentially NBI-like items these early stages of Project 20-57 led to the development of that are collected at a more detailed structural level or AssetManager NT, now an AASHTOWare product, which with a greater number of codes. It accomplished this by assists agencies in conducting program trade-offs using customizing the Pontis database, data entry forms, and the results of their own management systems for individ- reports. It created an applet to perform batch entry of ual assets (e.g., pavements, bridges, signs, and drainage) or