BONUS: The Top Ten List From Boise, ID TIP #1

So thanks to our Stringbenders in Boise, we have an excellent place to start digging in our heels and setting our practical pavement management plan into high gear.  Again, I will offer up a quick explanation for each topic along the way and follow up with a detailed explanation with field video and interview footage wherever possible for registrants of their book.

During our pavement distress evaluations we use DMIs (Distance Measuring Instruments) on all of our vehicles to get accurate linear measurements.  The units we choose to use are the Jamar RAC units.  If the road is a consistent width we will generally take a width measurement with our Keson measuring wheels. 

On occasion we find a segment of roadway that is variable widths.  When this situation arises I will make a simple sketch in my field book, and divide the length into 200 foot increments.  At that point, our field crew will station the overall length of the road with white dots sprayed with our paint cans at the 200 foot increments.

You can use a simple dot in the center of the roadway, we usually put a dot and a number such as 2 and 2 dots for 200, a 4 and 2 dots for 400 and so on.  At that point we will drop back once our dots are in place and the stationing is complete for that segment.  This is a good time to have to folks doing the work, one measuring and one writing the widths into the field notes.  Ideally this would be done on a small notebook computer directly into an Excel or Numbers spreadsheet if on a Mac.

The idea here is to think of your segment of variable width roadway broken into small strips 200 feet long and whatever feet wide.  If there are islands in the center, you can simply measure up to the island curb, then jump the grass or pinestraw, pick up on the other side and enter that measurement as the total width.  Be sure to make a note in our comments that you have jumped the islands, and it may be worth including the same islands in your sketches.

I will point out that we take the measurement in the center of the 200 foot strip.  In other words you are taking the average width of each 200 foot strip.  Now along the walk up the road, or whatever transportation you choose to use, be sure to include all turn outs, decels, accels etc.

Now is the time to make some standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding your side streets and such.  For example, when we do a road segment as the mainline and it runs at a 90 degree angle to a homeowners association or subdivision we have to make a decision in the SOP as to which segment will “own” the square yardage for the decel lane and accel lane.  We typically will let the mainline square yardage end at the seam of asphalt where the turnouts start.  You may want to employ this same technique.

What this means is that you would only reclaim, or preserve the mainline road during an upgrade.  The pavement section that starts at the seam we discussed above would therefore be upgraded or preserved during the scope of work at the project level for the subdivision.

And finally, for all the radius filets at the intersections we figure triangles of either 15 by 15, 20 by 20 or 25 by 25 feet.  For example if we are on a 22 foot wide county road that joins up with another 22 foot county road, we will say that at either end of the segment there are two 20 by 20 squares, or 2 times 400 SF for a total of 800 SF.

If we are in a subdivision with a 76 diameter cul de sac, we add 5,200 SF and if we are encounter the occasional 96 diameter cul de sac, we add 8,000 SF.  We have measured these to include the little filets that lead in and out of them, so you can use our same figures with confidence.

So for an example, we drive the UTV into a segment in a subdivision.  We measure as 21 feet wide from gutter to gutter.  We add 5,200 SF in the 76 diameter cul de sac, and we add one 400 SF amount for the filets at the one stop sign where we start.  The entire length up to the cul de sac start is 4,000 LF.

Therefore we get:

400 SF (filets)

84,000 SF (21 ft x 4,000 ft)

5200 SF (cul de sac)

89,600 SF

This is the type of accuracy we look for when doing our boots on the ground pavement distress evaluation.  We also teach these same principles as part of the IPMA™ Academy Certification during the online training.

Below is a photo of my calculator case with a page out of Dr. Shahin’s book to remind me of how many units to inspect.  Also below are the actual Jamar RAC 100 Distance Measuring Units (DMI) units that we use on the job.  Some use direct connections to the transmissions, some use OBD plugs and wires.  The newer models are more expensive and can use GPS.  The green survey tape is so I can find it when the calculator falls down into the crevice beside my seat!

Remember at the end of your network level survey, the project managers who put the work out for bid are going to be relying on your square yardage takeoff measurements to go to bid with.  If the pavement distress evaluation is done properly, there should be no need to reinvent the wheel so to speak when it comes to to let the work to be performed.  However, in some instances you will want to proof roll the roads at project level with a loaded dump truck and perhaps do some more diamond coring at 500 or 1,000 foot intervals.

And though I haven’t brought this up yet in the book, now is a good time to remind everyone that if you are out there doing anything in traffic, wear all of your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have a second person with you wherever possible to act as a second set of eyes.  I just read today about a construction worker that got killed on an Interstate project in Ohio.  His family was awarded 19 million in settlement, and the construction firm that he was working for at the time were slammed with 20 million dollars in punitive damages for having the worker work in a very unsafe workzone.  The driver that ran into the construction worker was not charged.

If I have learned one thing about safety in my three decades of construction experience it is that no one breaks a finger nail out here; they loose their limbs and life.  So again, be on the lookout for any and all signs of vehicular mayhem, and if you have ever thought about getting a carry permit for your weapon, no is also a good time to do that if you are going to be working in strange surroundings in the middle of a county in anywhere America or the world.  If you ever run into Drew, ask him about the dog that came out and bit his leg one day while he was doing a pavement distress evaluation.  Just when I thought I had seen it all…..

Get Ready for Tip #2, “Poor Data In Means Poor Data Out (Sui)”.

Thanks again,



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