National Academies Press: OpenBook

Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research

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Page 31
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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.
×
Page 32
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Suggested Research." 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 33

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31 4.1 Conclusions As a general conclusion, applying TAM concepts to geotechnical assets is a beneficial process for managing life-cycle risk, performance, and investment for assets such as embankments, slopes, retaining walls, and subgrades. Fortunately, information from the few long-term and sustainable GAM programs in other countries and from existing infrastructure systems indicates that state transportation agencies can be confident of the benefits without hav- ing to undertake new research or implement untested processes and systems. It is certainly possible for agencies to start implementing GAM now regardless of investment capacity and expertise. For an agency to begin recognizing the benefits of incorporating geotechnical assets into TAM, it is suggested that the primary goal should be starting GAM implementation and pro- gressing inventoried assets through the TAM steps without delay. Evidence from currently successful GAM programs indicates that benefits are possible without having to first complete the asset inventory or finalize all the processes and data systems that support implementation. Rather, agencies can benefit from starting with a simple asset management strategy and relying on justified process improvements with time. This approach is both preferred and supported by evidence from successful programs. In the United Kingdom, Network Rail’s inventory comple- tion took more than 11 years, and the first GAM policy document was not released until almost 6 years after the start of the program. The implementation framework developed for this project is structured to encourage agencies to begin GAM implementation. The approach is intended to trigger engagement for performing GAM without requiring a high level of motivation or technical ability. Cross-industry research indicates the importance of considering the components that underpin motivation and the ability to succeed at a new task. Considering these factors is essential to increasing the likelihood that the necessary behaviors will be adopted. This is not a reflection on the individuals who may undertake GAM, but rather a recognition of the challenges of implementing new processes and efforts in complex organizations consisting of individuals who already have high demands on their time and resources. Once GAM implementation has started and initial treatment recommendations have been developed, geotechnical assets will still need to compete for investment among the other asset groups and programs of the DOT. Thus, treatment planning is necessary to identify project-level options that incorporate the range of risk and investment priorities that are of interest to agency executives. The recently published NCHRP Research Report 885: Guide to Creating and Sustain- ing a Culture of Innovation for Departments of Transportation provides many helpful suggestions (Lorenz et al. 2018). C H A P T E R 4 Conclusions and Suggested Research

32 Geotechnical Asset Management for Transportation Agencies, Volume 1: Research Overview 4.2 Suggested Research The objective of this research was to produce an implementation manual for developing a GAM program. Once empirical data obtained through the actual execution of GAM imple- mentation across the United States are made available, there likely will be several future research directives that can support process improvement in GAM programs. As a result, maintaining an emphasis on starting implementation is a strongly recommended outcome from this project as implementation results are necessary for guiding future research. To support the initiation of implementation across DOTs and across varying geologic terrains, suggested future research could focus on actions that can increase motivation and ability for GAM. Suggested topics for research and the connection to motivation and ability are: 4.2.1 Motivation • Developing acceptance for GAM through existing federal and state programs: A federal mandate or other authorization that would create a strong motivation for GAM is not antici- pated in the near future. Opportunities may exist, however, to increase agency motivation to begin GAM through process improvements to existing programs. Research into approaches to adapt existing programs to motivate or incentivize GAM may facilitate a more rapid adop- tion of GAM across the nation. • Developing a national database for sharing of geotechnical asset performance: Like the National Bridge Inventory, a national inventory of geotechnical assets could be researched and developed to enable information sharing among agencies. This process would increase motivation for agencies to participate in GAM based on a need to stay current with trends in national practice. • Incorporation of federally supported guidelines for ROW considerations in GAM: For many agencies, treatment of features beyond the ROW has been approximately equivalent to treatment of assets within the ROW. This legacy approach is a worthy action that likely contributes favorably to the reputation of an agency; however, a direct cost trade-off exists for agencies that voluntarily undertake 100 percent of the financial liability for management of features beyond the agency boundary. Additionally, even though the operational conse- quences can be equivalent, the treatments and risk management approaches chosen to address features beyond the ROW may be different. Thus, agencies can benefit from standard guid- ance for managing geologic hazards and natural slopes beyond the ROW. This topic also has been identified as a performance improvement topic for the established GAM programs in the United Kingdom. It is anticipated that research into this topic may provide motivation for GAM at the executive levels of agencies by identifying opportunities for additional risk- sharing or funding options. • Treatment of natural hazard risk sources: For many agencies, recovery from natural hazard events such as flood-induced ground movements or landslides following extreme weather events has been considered equivalent to adverse events for geotechnical assets within the ROW. However, natural hazard risk is not unique to geotechnical assets, as all agency assets can be impacted by natural hazards. DOTs would benefit from research that establishes guid- ance for management of risk that originates from natural hazard sources, whether rockfall from natural features beyond the ROW or regional events such earthquakes and floods. Simi- lar to ROW considerations in GAM, this topic is anticipated to generate motivation among executives who are interested in identifying opportunities to improve cost recovery and reduce risk. • Developing practical guidance for risk management of geotechnical assets: By default and through legacy practices, agencies typically manage the risks related to geotechnical assets through acceptance or treatment. However, other management options (e.g., “transfer,”

Conclusions and Suggested Research 33 “terminate,” or “take advantage of”) could be considered. A synthesis of case histories and recommendations advancing risk management approaches that offer alternatives to the legacy approaches could benefit GAM implementation. This research might increase motivation among executives by providing actionable guidance for new risk management approaches on geotechnical assets. 4.2.2 Ability/Simplicity • Model development to support use of the GAM Planner and deterioration estimates: The GAM Planner that accompanies the GAM Implementation Manual contains default models for common asset types in a DOT GAM program. The manual also enables agencies to develop additional GAM Planner models based on agency-specific subject matter expertise and judg- ment. Research toward deterioration rates for geotechnical assets would be beneficial in improving GAM Planner modeling accuracy and treatment recommendations. This research would increase the simplicity of GAM by providing geotechnical asset managers increased confidence in model outcomes without having to undertake separate research programs. • Incorporation of UK geotechnical asset performance results: The GAM programs for high- way and rail networks in the United Kingdom present an opportunity to accelerate model reliability for embankment and slope assets in domestic GAM programs. These international programs have several years of geotechnical asset performance data that are enabling process improvements in the Markov Models for UK geotechnical assets. The value and applicability of these data should be evaluated to enable the GAM maturity advancements to occur rapidly for similar U.S. geotechnical assets. This research could save money for domestic agencies through the incorporation of useful data for similar assets while simplifying model development. • Measuring performance for geotechnical assets using automated or other simple collec- tion methods: The rapid pace of technological advancement is enabling DOTs to measure system performance through automated means. For example, many DOTs can precisely mea- sure traffic volume and disruptions using enterprise-level software systems. The resulting data can be valuable for measuring distributions that are attributed to geotechnical asset perfor- mance and can be obtained with less effort than manual techniques. Alternatively, remote sensing and emerging photogrammetric and satellite technology is enabling historical mea- surement of ground movements. Research into these topics may enable simplicity in GAM through the availability of low-cost regional data coverage that saves time in the asset manage- ment process. • Life-cycle cost analysis for geotechnical assets: Research toward approaches that improve reliability in NPV and benefit-cost models would be valuable for supporting the financial planning and investment steps described in a GAM plan document. As life-cycle cost analysis is not a common practice among geo-professionals, research that enables this process to occur at a low ability level would be beneficial.

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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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