By Mike Groh
Published in the June 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
With so many important responsibilities, it’s no wonder facility managers tend to overlook parking lot maintenance. Whether it’s due to lack of funding or lack of know-how, pavement maintenance is frequently a low priority.
Consider the following common occurrence. A facility manager receives a call regarding a pothole in the third aisle of the south parking lot. Someone from maintenance is asked to place a barricade over the pothole to prevent damage to vehicles or injuries to pedestrians. Over time, the barricade becomes a semi-permanent fixture, that is, until someone has time to place temporary patch material in the hole. By the time the barricade is put away, another pothole emerges.
Frequently, facility managers are forced to use makeshift approaches that only exacerbate the problem. Not only unsightly, a dilapidated parking lot is also an unpleasant surprise for clients, visitors, and other outsiders forced to dodge the sea of potholes in a neglected parking lot.
This simplified scenario restates what most facility professionals already know: maintaining a parking lot in a proactive fashion is more the exception than the rule! When potholes begin to interconnect and the lot starts to look like a strip mining operation, it is often only then that budgets are submitted for repairs. After all, no one rushes to take action, because it’s just a parking lot.
Aside from the obvious “out of sight, out of mind” reason, parking lot problems tend to escalate because facility managers are often unaware of the true value of their pavement asset. In financial terms, if maintenance is overlooked for an extended period of time, the cost to replace a lot is often prohibitive.
It is not uncommon for the replacement value of a hot mix asphalt parking lot to climb over the $1,000,000 mark, especially when the going rate of installation is between $1,500 to $2,000 per stall. Add to that the downtime during replacement, and costs continue to climb.
There’s no time like the present to rethink proper pavement maintenance strategies. There are numerous interpretations of what elements comprise a Pavement Management Program (PMP). Regardless of interpretation, the earlier a PMP begins, the greater the benefits will be.
The key activities that comprise a PMP are:
- Pavement inventory/assessment;
- Plans and specifications;
- Construction management services; and
- Tracking of maintenance/rehabilitation activities.
In order to execute a cost effective PMP, it is important to have a comprehensive pavement inventory. Prior to the fieldwork, it is recommended that the pavement area be categorized into various sections by type of use, location, or condition. These various sections allow for more detail to be noted and assist in the budgeting process.
During the pavement assessment, the condition of the surface is rated numerically using a variety of methodologies. Consideration should also be given to adjacent elements such as curbs and sidewalks, as well as drainage structures.
It is imperative that issues pertaining to pedestrian access be taken into consideration during the assessment. This is an excellent time to identify any safety items requiring immediate repair.
After the fieldwork has been completed, the next step is to generate a report that describes the original pavement construction and its current condition by section. The condition rating and use of the pavement will assist in determining the appropriate rehabilitation requirements or maintenance activity and the year in which it should be completed.
This information is then converted into budget information on a year-by-year basis. Budgets are generally established for a period of five years, with a reinspection scheduled for every other year. Updates to the budget become necessary based on changes in the pavement condition, local construction cost variability, and activity/usage patterns.
Implementation of a database format allows the facility manager to generate reports based on pavement type, condition rating, and the kind of work that needs to be done. Some databases allow the user to query data and generate more specific reports. In multiple site situations, for instance, the database should have the ability to provide reports on single or multiple sites for management purposes. A well documented condition summary, combined with accurate cost estimates, is an effective tool in obtaining funding and reducing overall costs to maintain pavements.
Plans And Specifications
The next step in a comprehensive PMP is to initiate the work outlined in the report. In order to maximize the budget, a detailed set of plans and specifications must be developed. Lump sum proposals should be avoided, as they provide no flexibility in making adjustments in the field based on conditions encountered or last minute changes in budgets.
The scope of work must be clearly defined in the specifications, using industry standards for materials and installation. The rehabilitation plan must show limits of the work and any applicable pavement design cross sections to support information contained in the specifications.
The proposal form should reflect the scope of work with applicable pay quantities and units of measurement that will be used. The detailed proposal form allows facility managers to select the most responsible bidder, which is not always the lowest bidder.
Construction Management Services
Construction management services are a combination of contract administration and on-site construction observation. Contract administration includes conducting a pre-construction meeting, review, and approval of material submittals; and scheduling/phasing coordination, pay recommendations, and preparation of record documents.
The benefit of on-site construction observation is to ensure specifications are being followed and materials are being transported and placed consistent with the specifications. Another key factor is tracking pay quantities outlined in the proposal form and comparing actual material usage with theoretical yields.
The benefit of a well executed PMP is that the serviceable life of a properly constructed pavement can be extended beyond its anticipated life cycle. The total expenditures on the pavement will be significantly less in a proactive approach, and the serviceability of the pavement will be better.
Only end users can place a value on a pavement that is safer, has less maintenance downtime, and is more aesthetically pleasing. In the end, most facility professionals will find there’s no time like the present to implement a PMP.
Groh is a senior consultant with Benchmark, Inc., a professional pavement and roof consulting firm with offices located in Cedar Rapids, IA and Elm Grove, WI. Send your comments or questions about this article to [email protected].