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    The NPS and Transportation Asset Management

    The National Park Service uses asset management tools and practices in managing its road and bridge network. By gathering information on asset location, condition, deterioration, and possible fixes, asset management practices enable NPS staff members to anticipate and prioritize maintenance and replacement needs based on given budgets. Cost/benefit information allows the use of engineering and economic tools to determine the best actions to take from the standpoint of lowest costs to NPS, continued protection of resources, and greatest benefit to park visitors.

    As roads and bridges deteriorate from age, use, and environment, the costs to maintain these systems increase, as more invasive treatments are often required. Reconstruction and replacement of roads can be more than five times as costly as pavement resurfacing treatments; bridges cost even more. Less expensive treatments can be completed in shorter periods, often allowing visitor traffic back onto a roadway in a shorter period of time and lessening the economic impacts to businesses in neighboring gateway communities.

    Estimated replacement costs for NPS roads and bridges are approximately $20 billion, requiring an annual expenditure of between $400 million and $800 million to maintain roads and bridges. To maintain the roads and bridges now in "good" condition-and successfully protect NPS transportation investments-the NPS must implement an aggressive preventive maintenance program. This would extend the life of these facilities, and ultimately save substantial dollars by avoiding full reconstruction costs.

    Transportation asset management provides a framework for handling both short-and long-range planning. Asset management lets agencies document that their investment of scarce resources is made within a logical, comprehensive, and systematic framework. Within this framework data is collected, alternatives are developed, decisions are made, and plans are implemented and monitored. The framework should include external factors and constraints such as policies and budgets, as well as methods for receiving feedback at every stage of the asset management process.

    Transportation asset management systems create relationships between engineering, economics, and business practices:

    • Business practices -- strategic planning, performance measures, data systems;
    • Engineering -- designs, materials, construction quality, and preservation;
    • Economics -- life-cycle cost analysis, optimization, return on investment, and financial strategies.
    For an example of asset management in the National Park System, download the Pavement Preservation fact sheet from this NPS Transportation site.