NCPP and Pavement Preservation Heading in the Right Direction
By Brian Stacy, PE
Pierce County, Washington
It’s long been the philosophy of my home county that maintenance (M), operation (O), and preservation (P) is the heartbeat of our program.
Certainly other aspects of our business are important, such as improvements (I) and administration (A). But if we’re unable to address the basics of our program (MOP), everything else struggles to achieve balance and ultimately becomes unstainable.
That’s why I was so encouraged with the resounding message that was provided at the National Pavement Preservation Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee, this month. Although I was only able to participate for a brief time, the overwhelming support for “Preservation” of our transportation assets was clearly evident. For those of us tracking this, what once was a topic rarely discussed amongst congestion relief, nonmotorized improvements, or even safety improvements, now preservation is firmly seated at the table and gaining the attention it deserves.
Larry Galehouse, the Director for the National Center for Pavement Preservation, did a great job teeing up the pavement preservation dialogue with the 700 attendees. It was interesting to get the Federal perspective from Walter (Butch) Waidelich, Executive Director of the Federal Highway Administration. We’re all encouraged to know there will be ongoing funding opportunities for preservation projects.
It became evident at the conference that convincing engineers and maintenance staff that preservation is worthy of our attention was simply preaching to the choir. What we really needed was a plan to convince our elected bodies that it’s a critical element to our programs. From an asset management strategy, our infrastructure program will not be sustainable if we’re unable to fund preservation. Our priorities must be educating our electeds, being as transparent as possible, and ultimately developing trust with those in charge so we can stay the course.
Think about it: in many cases we’ll be challenged with convincing an elected commissioner or councilperson to invest in the preservation element of our program that may not show its value for 7-10 years. They may have a term of 4 years, so they could be out of office. It’s understandable that their tendencies may be to invest in the capital projects now, resulting in ribbon cuttings, positive exposure, and ultimately votes.
It goes without saying that this is a monumental task for some county road officials. And without having the necessary level of confidence and trust with the ultimate decision makers, your desire to invest in preservation may be challenged.
Our job is to create a compelling story, compile the appropriate support data, and interact routinely with our decision makers to have a real chance at earning their trust and funding approval.
I’m very encouraged with the direction Preservation is going and applaud the efforts of NCPP!!
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