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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Development and Use of As-Built Plans by State Departments of Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25805.
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Page 44
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Development and Use of As-Built Plans by State Departments of Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25805.
×
Page 45
Page 46
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Development and Use of As-Built Plans by State Departments of Transportation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25805.
×
Page 46

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44 Conclusions This chapter of the synthesis summarizes the findings of this project and draws conclusions on as-built procedures that are in place at STAs. The objectives of this synthesis were to document the procedures used by STAs to develop and update as-built plans for various delivery methods; identify methods and technologies used for developing, preserving, and updating as-built plans; determine who is using as-built plans after they are approved and for what purposes; examine how STAs store and retrieve approved as-built plans for legal purposes; determine how STAs capture as-built information from third-party agencies such as contractors, design consultants, and CEI consultants; and determine areas of research and future improvement. The synthesis study methodology used surveys of STAs to establish a state of the practice regarding as-built procedures. The survey was sent to members on the AASHTO Subcommittee on Construction and the AASHTO Subcommittee on Design. A response rate of 84% (42 states) was recorded. In addition to the survey, STAs were chosen through the literature review and by initial survey responses for follow-up interviews. Six states were interviewed using Zoom conferencing. The interviewees were selected not only to achieve diversity in size and complexity of the agencies, but also to question those with differing as-built procedures. The states selected were Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The case example interviews pro- vided information on as-built procedures at these STAs in detail. Key Findings The work produced several key findings. Half of the respondents indicated that their agen- cies had a documented definition of as-built plans. The majority of the surveyed STAs have documented procedures for as-built development and storage procedures. However, fewer STAs (39% of respondents) have documented as-built approval procedures. As-Built Development • The focus of as-builts is documenting changes made to the design plans during the construction process. While responses varied on what information is being recorded on as-built plans, 74% of respondents (31 of 42) indicated they recorded all changes made during construction that deviate from the original plans. • The majority of STAs indicate that as-built information is recorded using handwritten notes, but this is often supplemented with other technology. Thirty-six STAs indicated they are still record- ing as-built information as handwritten notes, which is interesting considering the techno- logical advances within the industry. Survey respondents noted that sometimes handwritten notes and markups are the most convenient and time-efficient way to record as-built infor- mation. However, of the respondents who indicated they are recording as-built information C H A P T E R 5

Conclusions 45 by hand, 89% are also using other methods and technologies to capture as-built informa- tion. This is an indication that, while the methods used for as-built development may be less technologically sound than that of original project plans, there is a movement under way to incorporate newer technologies. • Systems used to develop as-built plants vary across STAs. Twenty-eight still rely on paper mark- ups as as-built plans, 18 use Adobe, 17 use Bluebeam, and 16 use MicroStation. Only three STAs use 3-D modeling to record as-built information. • STAs construction personnel are still involved in the majority of the as-built development process. Fifty-two percent (52%) of STAs utilize only in-house employees for as-built development, 45% utilize in-house employees and outside agencies, and 3% utilize only outside agencies. Outside agencies consisted of either the contractor or a design consultant. Most STAs using an outside agency to develop as-built plans are utilizing the contractor. • The process of as-built development is largely uniform across STAs regardless of delivery method. The only substantial trend noticed is that 55% of STA survey respondents indicated that the entity responsible for as-built development varies according to delivery method. As-Built Approval • The majority of responding STAs did not indicate having a formal as-built approval process. Only 39% of STA survey respondents indicated they had a documented as-built approval process. Little information was provided by STAs regarding their approval processes. Information that was provided consisted of the individual(s) responsible for signing completed as-built plans, therefore approving them. As-Built Retention and Preservation • As-built storage continues to evolve at STAs, with most states migrating to electronic storage systems. However, the accessibility and operability of the current electronic storage systems could be improved. Seventy-five percent (75%) of STA survey respondents indicated they had a documented as-built storage procedure. • The legal considerations of as-builts do not appear to be a significant concern for responding STAs. However, homeland security issues do limit the availability of critical-infrastructure as-built plans to the public. Uses of Approved As-Built Plans • Uses of as-built plans still fall under traditional use scenarios (e.g., informing preliminary design), but some states are incorporating as-builts into asset management systems. No STAs indicated they establish accuracy requirements for their as-built plans. Uses of approved as-builts seem to vary depending on the section or department using the as-builts. Fifty-one percent (51%) of STA survey respondents use as-built plans for all project types, 29% use as-builts for new design projects, and 3% (one agency) use as-builts for maintenance projects only. The most used as-built information from the survey responses was typical section information. Future Study Needs Based on the results of this study, the following suggestions for future work in this area are offered: • Improvements in as-built data capture methods were the most frequently cited (94% of respon- dents) area of needed improvement in current STA as-built processes. It appears that STAs realize

46 Development and Use of As-Built Plans by State Departments of Transportation that new technology could improve the efficiency of as-built data collection, but adoption has been slow and piecemeal compared to other sectors of the construction industry. • STAs are currently improving as-built processes with a focus on improving the overall efficiency of the as-built creation process. Eighteen STAs indicated they are currently updating their as-built processes with a focus on improving usability (70%), incorporating new technology (68%), and better linking to asset management systems (68%). There does not appear to be a focus on modifying the as-built process across delivery methods. • The most significant obstacles that STAs face in improving their current as-built process are limi- tations in staff knowledge and technology. Survey respondents noted lack of technical staffing (52%), IT issues (32%), and lack of available technology as the biggest challenges to improv- ing their current as-built process. • STAs could also benefit from better methods to incorporate as-built data into asset management systems. As-built information can become outdated as maintenance projects repair existing facilities. Methods or technologies that can provide more up-to-date asset management data could be beneficial.

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Sixty-eight percent of the states who responded to a survey indicated their agency has a documented process for as-built development. They said handwritten notes were the most commonly used method to capture as-built data (86%), followed by electronic notes (76%), and then photographs (33%). Some states use more than one option to capture as-built data.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Synthesis 548: Development and Use of As-Built Plans by State Departments of Transportation examines the current state of the practice in as-built development and use across the United States.

Over the years, as-built plans have been the method used by the construction industry to capture and record construction changes and additions that are not represented in the original plan drawings. The accuracy and completeness of these plans are essential for operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of current transportation infrastructure.

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