We just completed a sign retroreflectivity shortlist presentation for the a client and discussed the options available for gaining compliance based on FHWA regulations as described in the MUTCD. The client was sold on the “Blanket Replacement” method by a vendor who specializes in sign replacement.
I was thinking “what a great selling strategy”, but then I thought twice about it. This vendor had the ability to write their own ticket for selling their sign materials! A great strategy for the vendor, but not a good option for the client.
We approached the presentation using a different approach – it combined the concept of risk with the general principles of Asset Management. First, we would inventory their existing sign network to determine what they had and where it was. Then, we would prioritize which areas were the most likely to fail based on the average age of the signs as well as the risk associated with the actual failure (e.g. pedestrian injury or vehicle damage due to an accident).
This approach takes into consideration the entire segment of a road instead of considering an individual asset. The client believes that it is more cost effective to replace the worst signs along a segment using a single mobilization of field crews, rather than jumping around and fixing signs based solely on their condition. Therefore, we are combining the geospatial location, condition, age, value and MUTCD to develop a risk score for each individual sign.
This analysis is used to create the biggest bang for the buck for our client by reducing risk related to accidents caused by failing signs. Since all agencies have to be compliant with Regulatory, Guide and Warning signs by 2015, this approach will support a phased approach while taking care of the highest risk signs and working through the lower risk signs until all non-compliant signs have been replaced or are scheduled for replacement.
In conclusion, the use of Risk to support the prioritization of asset maintenance serves an appropriate role in saving clients time and money. By replacing the highest risk assets first, an agency can reduce their exposure to lawsuits related to failing infrastructure.