A year of growth leads to an improved five-year Infrastructure Management Program (IMP)
By ROBERT M. PEREZ and JENNIFER NICEWANDER, P.E.
By 2040, the population in Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) is expected to grow to nearly 11 million according to the Dallas Business Journal. Public infrastructure is going to play a pivotal role in supporting the anticipated population growth in DFW. As the City of Dallas is in the midst of major development and growth, and is focused on delivering a $1.05B Bond Program, there has arisen a need for a long-range plan to manage, coordinate, and budget for the city’s infrastructure needs.
Five-Year Infrastructure Management Program
To provide a long-range plan of infrastructure improvements, and to provide analysis of policy and budget decisions, following best practices, the City of Dallas has developed a Five-Year Infrastructure Management Program (IMP). The IMP will be updated annually. It is based on infrastructure condition assessments and available budgets. The IMP is a rolling, five-year schedule of projects for street maintenance, sidewalk maintenance, and alley maintenance that is based on infrastructure condition assessments and available budgets and will be updated annually.
In addition to providing a five-year outlook of future maintenance projects, the IMP provides a planning tool for program budgeting purposes, outlines the pavement condition assessment process, and discusses the city’s overall Asset Management Strategy and how that strategy is integrated into the project selection process. It is anticipated that the IMP will enhance project and utility coordination, reduce future project conflicts, and will increase the city’s transparency in project selection and project delivery.
Aside from providing a planning tool and insight into the project selection process, it is anticipated that creation of the IMP will educate the public on the dynamics between budgets and project capacity and answer the question, “When is my street going to be paved?” Additionally, because the City of Dallas staff will track and share completion of projects on its pavement management website, the IMP will increase accountability to the city’s residents.
Another benefit of developing the IMP was to not only look at a five-year outlook, but a 10-year outlook. The 10-year outlook provided insight into both maintenance dollars needed and future bond needs. It proved beneficial, because during budget discussions, Public Works staff was able to quickly determine the impacts of various funding scenarios on the street, sidewalk, and alley programs.
IMP Development Strategy
As the City of Dallas moves forward with delivering the IMP projects in the new fiscal year, city staff will begin planning for the FY 2020-2024 IMP. Following the ebbs and flows of construction, the City of Dallas took advantage of the FY 2018 winter months, which are typically slower construction months, to field-verify each of the following year’s projects. Field verification during the winter months is a practice that worked well; it will be used by the City of Dallas in the coming years.
Utilization of in-house staff was important in field-verifying projects, but working with consultants on the selection of projects, and their resulting impacts on the city’s pavement condition index (PCI) rating, was just as important. Like most municipalities, the City of Dallas works with limited financial resources. Developing the IMP helped the City of Dallas plan out the most optimal use of funds to have the most significant impact on the city’s streets. Looking at options for an optimal use of funds resulted in a pavement strategy that put a focus on preservation treatments to keep good streets in good condition, while providing structural applications to those streets that are on the verge of falling into a category requiring a costlier reconstruction.
Just as consultants are utilized in the project selection process, the City of Dallas also uses consultants in the collection of pavement data. Approximately two years ago, the city began using a consultant to collect pavement condition data. The consultant completed a citywide assessment to serve as a baseline for the city’s pavement condition. Moving forward, the consultant will assess one quarter of the city’s streets each fiscal year. The quarterly assessment of streets is a strong analysis of changes in the PCI for the work completed in the previous year, as well as to ensure no major variances in street condition since the last assessment.
As with any new program, there will be challenges and unknowns that staff members will face. For the City of Dallas, the project assessment during the winter months took approximately 20 staff members; one recommendation would be to determine the necessary amount of staff to complete each step and keep in mind holidays when staff is off and peak work times.
Availability of resources, both financial and personnel, will also determine how many programs can be included in your future IMP.
Jennifer Nicewander, P.E., is the Senior Program Manager for the City of Dallas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert M. Perez is the Interim Director of Public Works for the City of Dallas. He can be reached at email@example.com