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FHWA Offers Primer on Asset Management for ITS

In This Article:

Practices of Transportation Asset Management (TAM) have been applied in state, national, and foreign transportation agencies to notable success. TAM is an applied form of both engineering and economic analysis, using careful observation to identify a lifecycle of maintenance and replacement that will affordably optimize the lifecycle of a road, bridge, tunnel, or transportation technology. TAM can be applied to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), with the upkeep and replacement of integrated technology critical to safe and efficient freight and transit.

State DOTs are obligated to develop TAM Plans for the purpose of risk-mitigation, with potential consequence for inaction including preventable loss of life and costly need to fully replace transportation assets. Such plans are encouraged to apply TAM principles to ITS, noting the life- and cost-saving efficiency of such strategies in transportation. With this in mind, the FHWA has released a primer outlining methods and benefits of adoption. Definitions for the terms used in this report can be found here.

The FHWA notes eight elements applied to roads and bridges, which can be applied to ITS as well:

  1. Summary Listing of Assets — Summarizing all assets and noting their conditions.
  2. Lifecycle Planning — Estimating lifecycle costs of an asset, factoring in cost minimizing measures.
  3. Asset Management Objectives — Keeping an asset in good repair at minimal cost.
  4. Measures and Targets for Asset Condition — Determining targets that align with agency objectives.
  5. Risk Management — Developing a framework to identify and manage potential risks.
  6. Performance Gap Identification — Performance gaps potential solved by improving physical assets.
  7. Financial Planning — A 10+ years plan of financial resources and predicted expenditures.
  8. Investment Strategies — Strategies to achieve risk-minimized good repair at found minimum cost.

Laid out in brief, an agency working to apply TAM principles to ITS should make note of its technological assets, estimate their lifecycle costs including upgrade and repair, develop strategies to reduce cost alongside a risk-management framework, draft a long-term plan to implement said strategies, and do so.

The report classifies integrated strategies to optimize existing assets prior to need for replacement or capacity expansion as Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO or simply Operations). TSMO strategies are often quicker and cheaper than the alternatives demanded by inaction, and it is recommended to prioritize condition through TAM but performance through Transportation Performance Management (TPM) principles. Developing plans to maximize both performance and lifecycle will be beneficial to safety and cost concerns alike, and should be pursued in ITS and for all transportation assets.

An April 5th webinar elaborating on this report can be viewed here.

More broad information from the FHWA concerning TAM and TSMO beyond in the context of ITS can be read here. You can also explore these links for more information on ITS and Transportation Operations.

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