Knowledge is power, especially where big financial decisions are involved. The City of Chico needed complete knowledge about its major asset—a roadway network valued at $310 million—to inform its maintenance budget. Seeking pivotal answers, the City asked Harris & Associates to conduct a pavement condition survey and upgrade the City's Pavement Management Program (PMP).
The PMP guides the development of annual roadway maintenance, helping public works (both Engineering and Operations & Maintenance) more efficiently manage, track and readily communicate pavement conditions.
Harris' effort fueled five budget scenarios for the City Council's consideration. Since road conditions are scored via a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) number, each scenario showed how the amount of money allotted for maintenance would affect the City's future PCI.
Harris recognized that the most effective PMP required an overhaul of the City’s existing practices. Following Harris’s recommendation, the City upgraded from an old pavement management software package to an online StreetSaver® database, avoiding IT hosting and maintenance issues.
Harris performed extensive new field surveys of the entire city—collecting current conditions data on 282 centerline miles—to update the StreetSaver® database and show where maintenance would be most effective. Additional updates included Maintenance and Rehabilitation (M&R) data, added/split/modified streets, current M&R unit costs, treatment types, inflation, interest and number of years for budget analyses.
Harris took pictures of every inspection sample and generated a detailed plan of recommended improvements, including adding new roads and modifying segments. This plan even steered the City toward cost-effective treatments, such as slurry seals and crack seal, and continued evaluation of emerging techniques, like rubberized chip seals, thin-bonded wearing courses and rubberized overlays.
As part of the work, Harris trained City staff on field collection practices and StreetSaver® software. Harris also advised staff about the value of:
- Reviewing and updating decision trees for maintenance activities and unit costs
- Considering the use of districts within City limits for maintenance planning
- Updating the road network when streets are annexed or newly constructed
Moving forward, the City will have the knowledge of street conditions needed to guide its long-term budget decisions.
Beyond the Blueprints
To further improve StreetSaver®'s effectiveness, the Harris team built a GIS platform inside the system that added new, one-click map layer functionality. While matching the City's street centerline shapefile with the existing street section definitions, Harris found some segments that had not previously been inspected.
After double-checking with the City to make sure the missing segments were City maintained, Harris added them to StreetSaver® and performed inspections