by Steve Schmidt, PE, Vice President
With all the day-to-day activities that facility managers are responsible for, it’s no wonder parking lot maintenance is often overlooked. Whether due to lack of funding or lack of know-how, pavement maintenance is frequently a low priority.
There are many reasons why maintaining a parking lot is not a priority for most facility managers. Benchmark has found the primary reason is that facility managers often are not aware of the true value of their pavement asset. It is not uncommon for the replacement value of a parking lot to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The typical cost to install a parking lot with hot mix asphalt is $1,500 to $2,000 per stall.
The value of this asset is such that if the maintenance is overlooked for an extended period of time, the cost to replace it is often prohibitive in financial terms and the amount of downtime required is usually substantial. A facility manager is then faced with using a “Band-Aid” approach that may not be addressing the real problem. A band-aided lot is probably not the best first impression a company wants its customers to have either.
Pavement Management Program
There are numerous interpretations of what elements comprise a proper Pavement Management Program (PMP). Unfortunately, Benchmark is often asked to initiate a PMP after significant problems have occurred. The earlier a PMP is begun, the greater the benefits a facility manager will experience when maintaining their pavements.
The key activities that comprise a PMP are:
- Pavement Inventory Assessment
- Plans and Specifications
- Construction Project Management
- Tracking and Proper Timing of Maintenance/Rehabilitation
Pavement Inventory Assessment
In order to properly execute a cost-effective management program for pavements, it is important to have a comprehensive inventory of a facility’s pavements.
Pavement areas should be categorized into various sections by type of use, location, or condition. These various sections allow for specific details to be noted and assist in the budgeting process. During the assessment, the condition of the pavement is rated numerically using a variety of condition rating methodologies. In addition to rating the pavement condition, consideration should be given to adjacent elements such as curbs and sidewalks as well as drainage structures. It is imperative during the assessment that issues pertaining to pedestrian access and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) be taken into consideration. This is also an excellent time to identify any safety items requiring immediate repair.
A report should be created that documents the original pavement construction and its current condition by section. The condition rating and use of the pavement will assist in determining the appropriate rehabilitation requirements or maintenance activity and the year in which it should be completed. Condition ratings are also very commonly used for prioritization between pavement sections or multiple facilities. This information should then be converted into budget information on a year-by-year basis. We recommend that the budget be established for a period of five years, with a reinspection scheduled for every other year. Updates to the budget become necessary based on changes in the pavement condition, local construction cost variability, and to track recent activities.
Databases allow improved management of pavement type, condition rating, and type of work over one or hundreds of facilities.
Over the past three decades, Benchmark’s clients have been able to utilize pavement inventory assessment data to assist them in their budgeting process. A well-documented condition summary, combined with accurate cost estimates, is an effective tool in obtaining funding and reducing overall costs to maintain pavements.
Plans and Specifications
The next step is to initiate the work outlined in the report. Facility managers often tell us that they typically call three contractors to “give them bids to fix their lots”. At best, their efforts result in trying to compare proposals that offer various construction procedures that are not comparable, including significant variations in cost. In past situations, a contractor may ask them to spend a considerable amount of money based on a one-line proposal that may read, “Clean, patch, and pave the south parking lot.” They fully expect a facility manager to commit large sums of money based on very little information. Either situation is a lose-lose proposition for a facility manager.
In order to maximize a facility manager’s budget, a detailed set of plans and specifications must be developed. Benchmark recommends clients avoid accepting lump-sum proposals as they do not provide any flexibility in making adjustments in the field based on conditions encountered or changes in budgets. The scope of work must be clearly defined in the specification, utilizing industry standards for materials and installation. The rehabilitation plan must show limits of the work and any applicable pavement design cross sections to support information contained in the specifications. The proposal form should reflect the scope of work with applicable pay quantities and units of measurement that will be used. The detailed proposal form allows facility managers to select the most responsible bidder, which is not always the lowest bidder. Change orders can be costly but can be offset or eliminated with proper planning.
Construction Project Management
Construction project management services are a combination of contract administration and onsite construction observation. Contract administration includes conducting a pre-construction meeting, review and approval of material submittals, scheduling/phasing coordination, pay recommendations, and preparation of record documents.
The benefit of onsite construction observation is to ensure specifications are being followed and, most importantly, that materials are being transported and placed consistent with the specifications. Another key factor is tracking pay quantities outlined in the proposal form and comparing actual material usage with theoretical yields. A variation of 1/2″ in the placement of hot mix asphalt on a 200-stall parking lot is approximately 200 tons of hot mix asphalt. The value will vary by type of mix and installation-related issues, but conservatively, this cost could be well over $10,000. Benchmark finds that the majority of facility managers do not have the background or the time to monitor their projects to protect their investment.
The benefit of a well-executed Pavement Management Program is that the serviceable life of a properly constructed pavement can be extended beyond its anticipated life cycle. The total expenditures on the pavement will be significantly less in a proactive approach, and the serviceability of the pavement will be better.
Only end users can place a value on a pavement that is safer, has less maintenance downtime, and is more aesthetically pleasing. There’s no time like the present to implement a Pavement Management Program.