Effective, fair and sustainable road management require streamlined objective and up to date information. Advances in a range of sensing technologies and information processing have built up a potential for implementing new monitoring techniques that deliver key information for road management.
The traditional monitoring techniques suffer for example in cost efficiency, time and spatial coverage, extent of traffic disruptions, indicator reliability, interpretation of physical processes, reflection of needs regarding functionality and safety, versatility and multi-purpose usage, etc. Due to these deficiencies, road management lacks widespread objective materials and condition data and hence be an effective and proactive tool for the improvement of physical and wider economic performance of the road network.
Means of feedback of data into road management systems for future decision making should be integrated. Barriers to implementation of new monitoring techniques range from insufficient knowledge on actual measurements to ways of utilising information in decision making on strategic, network or object levels, as well as costs.
The overall idea is to map needs for monitoring data and develop means of cost-benefit analysis of monitoring techniques and utilisation in asset management (WP2). Then, identified key technologies for monitoring pavements and bridges are investigated to improve data processing, interpretation and indicators (WP3 and WP4). Finally, aspects of implementation of indicators in road asset management are investigated to provide information on application areas, added values, and procedures (WP2).
New tools for road assessment
An EU project developed improved road sensors that can be used with current systems. Outcomes include tools that monitor bridge parts, detect damage early and suggest maintenance options, and vehicle-mounted sensors that continually monitor pavement conditions.
Effective road management requires real-time information, which road sensors provide. Yet, current technologies suffer certain limitations, meaning that performance of the road network suffers.
The EU-funded http://trimm.fehrl.org (TRIMM) (Tomorrow's road infrastructure monitoring and management) project aimed to develop and implement suitable technologies. Other goals included highlighting and assessing the potential benefits of such devices.
Researchers developed monitoring tools for assessing bridge conditions. The tools helped with assessing the state of bridge components and the early detection of structural damage. Furthermore, the tools suggested optimal maintenance action.
Certain road sensors were installed on vehicles, providing continuous low-quality ride measurement data. The group also evaluated existing methods for monitoring pavement surface and structural conditions, resulting in new applications. Project work has also helped to improve road assessment, plus the ability to inventory road features such as signs, markings and barriers.
Researchers considered how the measurement innovations might be integrated into existing systems and using accepted performance indices. Work included new methods for making business cases, enabling quick and effective assessment of the project's monitoring innovations.
The TRIMM project's new road sensors, plus new methods of implementation and assessment, have resulted in more effective and economical road monitoring and maintenance.