The professionals who manage the National Park Service (NPS) transportation program are the custodians of a vast and complex transportation system. The transportation infrastructure represents an enormous financial value to national parks and to the nation.
This investment must be protected by continued maintenance driven by effective business practices. Those business practices effective performance management and accountability, following law and policy, and employing responsible and innovative funding and finance.
Transportation Asset Management
The NPS 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 to anticipate and prioritize maintenance and replacement needs based on given budgets. Cost and 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.
Transportation Asset Management is a strategic framework for making costeffective decisions about allocating resources (funding and personnel) and managing infrastructure (physical assets such as roads, equipment, and buildings). It is based on a process of monitoring the physical condition of assets, predicting deterioration over time, and providing information on how to invest in a comprehensive and deliberate manner to maintain or enhance the performance of assets over their useful life. The goals of a transportation asset management program are to minimize the life-cycle costs for managing and maintaining transportation assets, including pavements, bridges, tunnels, rails, and roadside features.
Learn more about the management systems the NPS uses to effectively manage its assets:
- Bridge Management System
- Pavement Management System
- Congestion Management System
- Safety Management System
Management systems have the ability to provide different information at different levels. For the next transportation reauthorization bill, these systems were used to determine the budget needed for the NPS transportation network to meet an acceptable performance target. Industry has shown that care of assets throughout the life-cycle of the facility saves tax dollars, provides safer travel, and reduces vehicle operating costs.
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.