ITD partners with INL to assess road conditions

Be my partner.

That’s what the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) asked ITD in seeking help with its road inspections.
And the transportation department was glad to oblige; partnering is what we do.

“Do you have one of those automated vans?” asked David Start, operations and engineering supervisor at INL.

He was, of course, referring to ITD’s profiler or video log van (“Vanessa”), which videotapes the roadway, including roughness and rutting of road surfaces, at speeds up to 65 mph.

INL previously used a tedious and time-consuming process of road inspection that involved manual walk-downs and surface grading.

Start, a former ITD employee, contacted his old supervisor, Ed Bala of District 5 in Pocatello, now the District 5 engineer. The INL official was hoping to employ Vanessa and some of the new pavement management technology he’d heard so much about.

Bala put Start in contact with District 6 Engineer Blake Rindlisbacher, who oversees the area where INL is located. He, in turn, assigned District Engineering Manager Karen Hiatt to add road inspections to its service agreement with INL.

ITD tapped Pavement Management Engineer Karen Strauss of ITD Headquarters in Boise to coordinate the work required to get all of the data necessary to run a pavement analysis on INL roads.

Using INL map information, Senior GIS Analyst Tom Marks at Headquarters divided INL roads into segments for pavement analysis, created GIS line work and produced road maps.

Transportation Technician Senior Annette Tetreault, also based at Headquarters, then loaded Tom’s segment codes and line work into ITD’s profiler/video log van and drove to eastern Idaho to collect roughness and rutting data on 51 miles of INL routes.

INL has research and development complexes on the desert west of Idaho Falls linked by these roads.

Meanwhile, Marks provided Strauss with maps for performing a visual (windshield) survey of the paved roads. She drove to the INL site and visually surveyed roadway cracking in company with Jerry Bingham and John Horsley of INL.

Once data collection back in Boise was complete, Strauss entered the profiler van data, visual survey data, construction history, traffic loads, speed limits, GIS line work and segment codes into ITD’s Pavement Management System (PMS) and ran system analyses. During the 10-month project, she circulated weekly progress reports among ITD and INL.

In consultation with District 6 PMS Officer Eric Verner and District 6 Materials Engineer Paul Steele, she shared results with INL officials and recommended pavement projects.

“We are very pleased with inspection results,” Start says. “The data enables INL to develop a 10-year road-sustainment plan.
“We also are delighted by significant cost savings. We estimate costs will drop by 90 percent.”

He says ITD personnel were cordial and professional.

“This project is an excellent example of providing mobility-focused transportation services that drive economic opportunity,” Rindlisbacher says. “The collaborative effort not only meets a strategic goal but also provides a community service.

“Maintaining Idaho’s infrastructure also is part of Governor Otter’s vision to strengthen Idaho’s economy through his Project 60 Initiative.”

Project 60 is the Idaho governor’s plan to grow the state’s gross domestic product to $60 billion annually by selling more Idaho products and services around the world and showcasing the state’s stable and predictable tax and regulatory environment. Partnering with local governments and businesses helps achieve Project 60 goals.

Needless to say, Idaho’s gross domestic product and the state’s transportation system are intrinsically linked. People and businesses depend on a highway network that provides safe, reliable, fast and efficient service.

In project meetings, officials discussed how ITD uses results from its PMS (now part of the ITD Transportation Asset Management System [TAMS]) inspection process to prioritize, schedule and develop future maintenance actions.
“This project was a total success, giving us additional experience in extending PMS services to others and providing INL with sound recommendations for road preservation and rehabilitation,” Strauss explains.

ITD agreed to extend its service agreement with INL to rate INL roads as often as every three years.

“Another positive about this project was response time,” the district engineer says. “Since we already had a cooperative agreement with INL, we were able to drive the roads only a few weeks after the initial phone call.”

Other ITD participants in the partnership were Bill Shaw and Bruce King along with INL’s William Buyers, Angela Reese, Gail Olson and Stephanie Austad. Jackie Dedic of the U.S. Department of Energy also took part in the undertaking.

The project served as a pilot for possibly performing similar work for counties and municipalities in the future, as needed.
District 6’s Paul Steele suggested to Start that INL conduct a condition survey to learn subsurface (ground) characteristics of any problematic stretches of road, and he volunteered his expertise.

Partnerships left and right.

ITD and INL look forward to partnering again when mutually beneficial.

Published 5-18-2012