Applying Transportation Asset Management to Highway Roadsides/Balancing Ecological Opportunities with Operational Requirements

Raymond Willard PLA, Washington State Department of Transportation
Gregor Myhr, Kelli McAllister, Juli Hartwig PLA
Topic Area
Sustainability and Resilience in Transportation Systems

The roadside right of way is one of the most under-appreciated assets of the highway system. By strategically managing roadside vegetation and land use to its maximum operational and environmental potential, transportation agencies can realize significant increases in the social, environmental, and economic values of highway transportation systems.
WSDOT recently published a transportation asset management plan, which identifies and quantifies operational and ecological metrics for planning, tracking, and measuring outcomes in relation to highway roadside land use and vegetation management. To support this asset management plan, the agency has developed a coordinated set of management tools for roadsides including:
1.Documented annual performance measures for roadside maintenance
2.Annually updated and mapped statewide inventory of all planned roadside maintenance work units
3.Mobile technology application for recording geographically referenced work accomplishment and cost data
While some of WSDOT's roadside assets are currently being maintained in a relatively good state of repair, others are being neglected due to lack of resources. This presentation will show how WSDOT intends to use these planning tools and technology to make a business proposal for maximizing operational sustainability and achieving a state of good repair in the management of approximately 100,000 acres of roadside R/W throughout the state.
WSDOT's asset management strategy is based on the distinction between two major types of roadside areas with differing long-term management strategies:
1.Operational (adjacent to pavement)
2.Non-operational (where there is width beyond what is required for traffic operations, including environmental mitigation sites)
Functional objectives and maintenance requirements in the Operational R/W are consistent and mostly standardized throughout the state - Maintenance activities in this area are routine and easily planned. In the Non-operational R/W, objectives and required maintenance are dictated by surrounding land use and ecosystems, and many sites require long-term restoration effort or working in partnership with neighbors and volunteers. Management of the Non-operational R/W is challenging due to the varied site conditions throughout the state, and due to the fact that this work is often put off year after year when funding is tight.
This presentation will discuss how organizing, planning, and funding environmentally sound roadside land use and vegetation management practices can contribute to the overall sustainability of highway transportation systems by better mitigating the negative impacts of roads on the environment and surrounding land use. It will also explain the agency's plan to go about restoring all the environmentally deficient roadsides in the state over a 10 year period, and discuss the projected life-cycle costs and benefits.

Abstract Keywords
Asset Management
Roadside Land Use
Environmental Resilience