MnDOT maintenance crew filling cracks on the road.

New Project: The Impact of Deferred Maintenance in Minnesota

Expenditures for maintenance are not keeping pace with the needs of the local transportation system. When local governments face fiscal stress, planned maintenance gets postponed to make funding available for other purposes. As deferred maintenance grows, the work and investments needed to bring an asset into a good condition grow too.

The failure to keep up with maintenance has significant negative impacts on asset life, leading to higher future maintenance costs and threatening safety and health of the population using the facility (Chasey et al., 2002; Westerling and Poftak, 2007).

In a new research project sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, researchers will use use a combination of multiple methods—case studies, statistical models, and surveys—to analyze patterns of maintenance expenditures across different localities (cities and counties) in Minnesota, explore how fiscal conditions affect maintenance expenditures, and to examine the negative impact of deferred maintenance on Minnesota’s local road system.

The team plans to:

  1. Analyze how maintenance spending and asset conditions have changed over time
  2. Examine how fiscal conditions affect maintenance investments
  3. Develop multiple case studies on the decision-making of cities and counties regarding maintenance of the local roadway system
  4. Develop a survey to understand the challenges cities and counties face when making decisions regarding maintenance, the strategies they are taking to balance funding for maintenance and new construction, and other options they are considering

Maintenance is defined as the work to keep the road surface in good repair, to extend the life of pavement and take care of roadway assets, including paving (overlay) projects, pavement sealing (crack sealing), full depth reclamation (FDR) and similar treatments.

This research will generate information that city and county engineers can use in discussions with elected officials to maintain an appropriate and consistent level of funding for maintenance.

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 07/14/2020
  • Estimated Completion Date: 04/30/2022
  • Funding: Local Road Research Board
  • Principal Investigator:  Zhirong Jerry Zhao
  • Technical Liaison: Paul Oehme

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit the Local Road Research Board to subscribe.

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