235 years after the shot heard round the world, Lexington community leaders realized they had reached the point where pavement conditions were deteriorating quickly, and town roads were no longer up to the high standards of its residents.
Inadequate funding, rapidly rising asphalt costs, and minimal preventive maintenance activities had resulted in a network pavement condition index (PCI) of only 68 in 2010 with an overwhelming 39% of town-owned road miles in need of major rehabilitation or reconstruction. In a town widely recognized for delivering high levels of constituent service, these poor pavement conditions were simply unacceptable.
Lexington has one of only two APWA-accredited public works departments in the entire state of Massachusetts, and its engineering staff went to work developing some alternative funding scenarios designed to reverse the negative trend and get town roads in better condition. Based on a series of computerized pavement management system (PMS) analyses, the elected officials and other community stakeholders ultimately decided to fund a plan to increase the network PCI from 68 to the low 80’s by the year 2021.
To achieve this lofty goal, town leaders recognized they would need to expand their pavement management toolbox, which was limited to only mill-and-fill paving, full depth reclamation (FDR), and some crack sealing. To substantially improve the network over time, the engineers needed to not only repair the backlog of poor roads, but also keep the good roads in good condition with a “best-first” preventive maintenance approach.
After much research and many visits to surrounding towns to examine the performance of various alternative treatments, Lexington expanded its toolbox to include an appropriate repair or maintenance technique for every point along the asphalt deterioration curve, including fog seals, micro surfacing, cape seals, and cold in-place recycling. This new pavement preservation program added nearly 200 mile-years of service life to the town’s road network in 2017 (for a 65.5 mile-year surplus).
Results have been exceptional. The increased emphasis on preventive maintenance and network optimization has resulted in a network PCI projected to reach the low 80’s by late 2018, 3 years ahead of the 2021 target. 82% of the 131.5-mile network has received some treatment over the last 5 years, and the backlog of poor roads needing major repairs has been reduced from 39% to 19% of the network.
Lexington has received numerous compliments on the noticeable improvement from elected officials, public safety personnel, and residents from all areas of the town. A contributing factor to Lexington’s well-received pavement management program has been its public outreach and notification process.