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Case Study | Modelling the deterioration processes of pavement systems

Modelling the deterioration processes of pavement systems

Research overview

This project was undertaken with a local authority specifically considering the highway infrastructure in their area, which is an essential asset and underpins the economic growth of the county.

The main focus of this project was to produce algorithms that will track and present trends in asset deterioration, as well as analysing and understanding the impact and interdependency that one highway asset has with another highway asset.

The research focussed on algorithms that model the deterioration processes of pavement networks and that optimise maintenance intervals on the highway asset.

How the research helps

In addition to meeting the needs of local communities and supporting the changing requirements of businesses, the local highway network is, without doubt, the most valuable publically owned asset managed by the County Council. With a total replacement cost of £7 billion, the importance of its effective and efficient management cannot be understated.

This research sought to analyse the local highway network in this area by considering the frequency and costs of road and pavement maintenance. The report used cost-effectiveness analysis models to explore the issues surrounding maintenance of the highway network and identified algorithms to model the deterioration processes which will optimise maintenance for the highway asset in this area.


This research and ensuing report identify the models for the deterioration process that will enable the local authority to pre-empt deterioration on pavements and roads thus enabling funds to be focused on those areas of greatest need first.

The report will be incorporated into the development of the pavement management systems and the models will go some way to inform the local authorities spending on highway assets to ensure maintenance intervals for highway assets and pavement networks are optimised.

The data

For the purposes of the research, access was given to datasets that contained information on highway assets, defects and maintenance intervals.

The research

From the outset, it was recognised that although all roads deteriorate at differing rates, roads with similar pavement structure and traffic loading, within the same geographic location, tend to exhibit similar performance.

The research considered several influencing variables including cumulative effects of traffic, accumulative rainfall, material type, layer structure as well as considering, defects, foreign object debris and the time of the initiation of a defect (which may not be revealed immediately).

The report reviewed existing literature methods and produced a method that will track and present trends in asset deterioration and proposed a method of optimising maintenance intervals.

The report used condition-based maintenance (CBM), which is a programme that recommends maintenance decisions based on the information collected through condition monitoring. This method uses three clear steps, data collection, data analysis and maintenance decision making.

Alongside the data that was analysed a review of pavement management systems was undertaken. The project developed methods for modelling the deterioration processes of the condition and health of pavement networks. The resulting models considered two areas; the deterioration process and optimisation maintenance intervals. Both models were presented to the local authority ready to be applied to the CBM along with associated cost information in maintenance decision-making.

Report author

Dr Shaomin Wu, University of Kent