Why is Preservation Important?
Preservation is essential. If we can’t afford to take care of what we’ve already built, we can’t afford to rebuild it or expand it. Preservation and maintenance are the foundation of good asset management for every single mode of travel, not just pavement and bridges. Transit systems, ferries and terminals, traffic management systems, marine terminals, airports, railways, drainage culverts and stormwater systems, sidewalks, and more—protecting our existing investments is the single most cost-effective thing we can do to ensure our transportation system continues to meet our needs today and in the future.
Four Policies that Support the Statewide Preservation Goal:
Make preservation and asset management of the existing state and local transportation network a funding priority and work to reduce the backlog of deferred infrastructure maintenance.
Support optimal asset management strategies that keep life-cycle costs as low as possible, including pavement and bridge preservation, ferry vessels and terminal infrastructure preservation, transit system and infrastructure preservation, and technology infrastructure supporting traffic management and operations systems.
Promote systemic and cost-effective preservation of essential infrastructure outside the control of local or state transportation agencies, such as river locks and barges, marine terminals, railroads and trestles, and airports.
Work to eliminate activities or practices that reduce the integrity of the existing transportation system or which increase life-cycle costs.
Recommendations to Support System Preservation Statewide:
Increase revenues dedicated to all aspects of maintenance and preservation of the transportation system statewide.
Prohibit the legal use of studded snow tires on public roadways within five years.
Reduce unnecessary permitting delays, especially on preservation and maintenance projects where the potential for environmental impact is minimal.
Pursue innovative strategies to maintain the economic viability of rural regional, community, local, and general use airports.
Support the state’s economic competitiveness in international trade by helping to ensure Washington’s ports are “big ship ready”—in the water and on land.
Cross-cutting topics can advance our understanding, preparedness, and ownership over new horizons. Here we present potential next steps and some options available to deepen understanding.
Innovations in construction materials and techniques, such as self-healing concrete and 3-D printed infrastructure, herald significant changes for maintenance and preservation practices in the future. Meanwhile, rapid advances in the development and deployment of drone technology and embedded sensors are creating safe and cost-effective means of conducting bridge inspections and monitoring the physical condition of infrastructure without relying on more destructive or costly techniques. Efforts to disseminate best practices and lessons learned as new techniques are implemented will expand the knowledge base of professionals across the state and help local and state agencies navigate new legal and security frontiers.
The ability of our transportation system to measure up in a disaster and support rapid response and recovery efforts depends in large measure on the state of the system before the disaster. If we are unable to effectively maintain our resources on an ongoing basis we need to consider how that will impact our overall system resiliency in times of stress, and plan accordingly.
The dynamic knowledge-based economies of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia are giving rise to a strong, mega-regional northwest technology corridor. The potential of this economic collaborative is challenged by mobility issues. Not only must these businesses overcome geographical differences and international border crossings, but they are also challenged by unreliable and inefficient travel on the existing system. To better support economic growth in this sector, the two states and the Canadian province have joined with private sector businesses to explore possible public-private investments that will improve reliable mobility, potentially including a high-speed rail corridor or an autonomous vehicle corridor connecting Seattle to Vancouver, B.C.
What does Travel Demand Management have to do with preservation?
Though we don’t often think of travel demand management (TDM) as part of an effective system preservation program, the two work in concert. An effective TDM program is one that helps people to travel more efficiently by changing mode of travel or time of travel, or possibly even eliminating the need to travel altogether. Even small changes in travel demand during peak periods can alleviate chronic delays, reducing the need for costly system expansion and the ongoing preservation it will require. In this way an effective TDM program is also an effective preservation strategy.