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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25363.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25363.
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Page 5
Page 6
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25363.
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Page 6

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

4 1.1 Introduction This volume of NCHRP Research Report 903 presents the contractor’s final research report for NCHRP Project 24-46, “Development of an Implementation Manual for Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies.” The purpose of this study was to deliver an implementation manual for transportation executives, TAM staff, and geotechnical practi- tioners to initiate GAM in their agencies. The final deliverables under this study included the following: • This research overview; • Volume 2 of NCHRP Research Report 903 (the GAM Implementation Manual); • A technical memorandum on implementation of the research findings; • A spreadsheet-based GAM Planner; • A spreadsheet-based NPV template; • Appendix material that supplements the GAM Implementation Manual, including user guides for the GAM Planner and NPV template, and additional models and examples; and • A slide (PowerPoint) presentation that can be used for training. The GAM Planner, NPV template, appendix material, and slide presentation are available for download from the NCHRP Research Report 903 webpage at www.trb.org. PDF versions of both volumes of the report also are available for download from the site. The technical memoran- dum on implementing the research findings of this study can be obtained from a link on the NCHRP 24-46 project page. 1.2 Research Need Geotechnical assets are the walls, slopes, embankments, and subgrades that contribute to the ability of a transportation agency to perform its strategic mission. Historically, geotechnical assets have been treated as hazard sites that create unpredictable financial liabilities to opera- tions and/or have been ignored until failure forces unplanned action. The literature contains numerous examples of direct and indirect economic consequences that have resulted from the adverse performance of a geotechnical asset. As a result, it can be shown that these assets— when they perform correctly—contribute measurable value to the transportation network. Walls, slopes, embankments, and subgrades are, indeed, assets, and they should be managed to realize the measurable life-cycle cost, risk-reduction, and performance benefits that are possible for owners and users. This conclusion is supported by examples from sustainable, successful risk-based GAM programs like those associated with passenger rail and highway networks in the United Kingdom. C H A P T E R 1 Background

Background 5 Extrapolating the consequences from adverse performance and potential benefits from investment in GAM to all U.S. state transportation departments, federal land management agencies, and local jurisdictions, the purpose and need for GAM is measurable and substantial. Further, federal authorizations, such as MAP-21 in 2012 and the FAST Act in 2015, specify risk- and performance-based asset management for bridges and pavements while encouraging state transportation agencies to develop and implement transportation asset management (TAM) strategies for all assets within the ROW. Advancement has been made in the overall practice of TAM to allow transportation agencies to focus strategically on the long-term management of government-owned assets. A few states have started GAM programs in conjunction with TAM, but the early efforts have focused mostly on the inventory and condition measurement steps. Among states that have yet to start GAM, many indicate a need and desire but also indicate several barriers to implementation. As a result, the benefits of asset management have not been fully realized for geotechnical assets in most U.S. transportation agencies. The stated need of this research is for a GAM implementation process and manual that will provide specific direction on the following: • Guidelines for managing geotechnical assets consistent with AASHTO’s TAM practices; • Examples of successful GAM strategies; • Definitions for and a taxonomy of geotechnical assets to support communication and compara- bility among state DOTs; • Performance-based goals and targets, and a means of measurement for geotechnical assets; and • Ways to incorporate risk analysis principles and processes for geotechnical assets. 1.3 Benefits of GAM Based on outcomes from established GAM programs and TAM practices in general, perform- ing GAM yields the following benefits: • Financial savings across the geotechnical life-cycle, with values reported to be greater than 30 percent by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE 2013) and 60 percent to 80 percent per unit length of embankment in the United Kingdom (Perry et al. 2003); • A process to measure and manage involuntary safety risk exposure across the entire asset class; • Lessened traveler delay and closure times, resulting in improved network operational performance; • Reduced adverse economic impacts to users, private enterprise, and communities; • Fewer impacts and damages to other transportation assets; • Demonstrated stewardship, including protection of environmental resources, which enhances agency reputation and improves sustainability; • Incorporation of data and processes into informed decisions that support agency and stake- holder objectives; • An understanding of current risk exposure levels and distribution, and the ability to manage those risks; • Data and processes for prioritizing operations and maintenance (O&M) decisions; • The ability to start very simply and adapt the GAM process over time as the economic benefits are realized; and • An implementation process that does not involve compliance or reporting requirements, and for which the initial data collection stages can be directed at enabling O&M decisions.

6 Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview 1.4 Research Objectives and Scope The objective of this research was to produce a manual for implementing GAM that provides tools for a consistent management program that also is flexible for adaptations by differing agencies as they integrate their geotechnical assets into the TAM program. Given that (1) GAM is not a federally required process (beyond what is required in bridge asset management at this time), and (2) funds and staff resources are anticipated to be limited at the start of a program, the research team recognized that the implementation process must be simple and practical to enable broad adoption across agencies. The scope of work activities performed for this research included: • Task 1: Kick-off Meeting and Work Plan Formulation. A teleconference between the research team and NCHRP was completed to present the amplified Work Plan. Input from the panel members was incorporated into Tasks 2 and 3. • Task 2: Literature Review. The literature review encompassed gathering and reviewing infor- mation from national and international literature based on sub-topics that included best practices; the integration of inventory, condition, risk, and performance in assessment; risk and risk-based management; and life-cycle costs and investment. • Task 3: Case Study Synthesis. This task involved documenting and synthesizing a range of case studies of agency practices that represented differing geologic terrains, agency structures, levels of maturity of the asset management process, performance perspectives, risk tolerances, and investment capabilities. An outcome from the synthesis was identification of geotechnical, planning, and executive actions to enable implementation. • Task 4: Deliver Interim Report. The Interim Report presented the findings of the case studies and the literature review with a synthesis of practices for enabling GAM. • Task 5: Host Interim Meeting. A panel meeting was held to review the findings that were presented in the Interim Report and to present the Phase II Work Plan. • Task 6: Develop GAM Implementation Plan. A GAM implementation process was developed that follows asset management steps for objectives and measures, inventory and condition, performance gap identification, life-cycle cost, risk management analysis, financial planning, and investment strategies. • Task 7: Data Management for GAM Implementation. A spreadsheet-based (Microsoft Excel) worksheet template (the GAM Planner) was developed to enable an agency to implement GAM following the process described in Task 6. • Task 8: Deliver Final Deliverables. The final deliverables included a draft implementation manual (now Volume 2 of NCHRP Research Report 903), a final research report (now this volume of the report), a technical memorandum on the implementation of the research findings (available from the NCHRP 24-46 project page), a slide-based (PowerPoint) training presentation, and additional training materials.

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TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 903: Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies provides an introduction and scalable guidance for state transportation agencies on how to implement risk-based geotechnical asset management into current asset management plans. Volume 1, Research Overview, details the scope, process, and findings of the study.

The management of bridge and pavement assets has for many years garnered significant attention by state transportation agencies while the management of geotechnical assets—such as walls, slopes, embankments, and subgrades—has been elusive. Traditionally, geotechnical assets have been treated as unpredictable hazard sites with significant potential liability because failure of any geotechnical asset may lead to traveler delay, damage to other assets, or impact safety. Geotechnical assets are, however, vital to the successful operation of transportation systems and present an opportunity for system owners and operators to realize new economic benefits through risk-based asset management.

Appendices A & B to Volume 1 are available for download in a single file. Appendix A summarizes the literature review prepared during the research, and Appendix B presents the outline used for the case study interviews.

Volume 2, Implementation Manual, assembles the research results into guidance that should be of immediate use to those who maintain geotechnical assets including walls, slopes, embankments, and subgrades.

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