Federal Highway Research Institute

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Road maintenance planning

Framework conditions, requirements, implementationg

A working infrastructure is a basic requirement for economic development potential and roads are an important part of this infrastructure. However, they are often only perceived when time loss, injuries or damage to goods have occurred.

Maintaining reliable performance of the road infrastructure and thus securing the essential mobility of our society is becoming increasingly difficult, due to increasing traffic load – in particular heavy traffic, an unfavourable age structure as well as insufficient financial means.

The development and introduction of the directives for planning of maintenance measures on road pavements (RPE-Stra 01), the coordinated maintenance planning (KEP) for carriageways and constructions as well as the regular, nation-wide condition survey and evaluation (ZEB) were already established as important requirements and foundations for systematic road maintenance. The development and application of the Pavement Management System (PMS) and the Bridge Management System (BMS) are further steps towards network-wide, optimised maintenance planning. PMS, which was developed for carriageways, has already made maintenance planning much easier. The requirements for maintenance resources can be objectively estimated and very clearly illustrated.

In future, additional strategies will be required in parallel to the continuous development and improvement of the existing tools to keep obstructions due to building sites at a minimum, in particular on routes with high traffic loads, while guaranteeing the substance-orientated maintenance of roads stipulated in the federal traffic route plan (BVWP).

Initial situation

The road network in Germany for interurban traffic comprises about 13,000 km of federal motorways, about 38,000 km of federal roads, 87,000 km of state roads and 92,000 km of district roads. In total, this corresponds to a road network for interurban traffic of approximately 230,000 km. The gross fixed assets of the federal trunk roads, i.e. federal motorways and federal roads, amount to approximately 273 billion euros (source: Transport in Figures 2020/2021, 49th edition, published by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure).

Age structure

Between 1965 and 1985, new construction of federal motorways was intensified. A period of 30 years is fairly long in relation to the average lifespan of conventional constructions. Current experience indicates that this part of the assets must be thoroughly renovated during the coming years. Wearing, binder and partially also base courses will have to be renewed.

In addition, many of these routes are currently exposed to very high traffic stress that could not have been predicted. The traffic performance of passenger and freight traffic have increased considerably and political changes and decisions – such as German reunification, extension of the internal European market and an increase in the permitted axle loads – have led to drastic stress changes on roads and bridges in the "transit country Germany".

Despite intensive efforts to shift more traffic to rail and waterways within the framework of integrated transport concepts, over 70 percent of freight transport performance is currently still handled by road (source: Transport in Figures 2020/2021, 49th edition, published by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure). The federal motorways alone take on more than 30 percent of the annual mileage, although their share of the road network for interurban traffic is only just under 6 percent (source: Transport Investment Report for the reporting year 2018, publisher: Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure). As a result of the enlarged European internal market, transport performance in freight transport in particular will continue to increase strongly.

Maintenance management

Maintenance management was developed to ensure systematic road maintenance and to avoid a backlog of maintenance demand that can no longer be handled. There are two boundary conditions, in addition to limited financial resources, that should not be underestimated.

One concerns the personnel restrictions: Nearly all road building administrations have restructured their administrative sector and continue to reduce staff. These savings measures led to a considerable loss of knowledge and experience. A continuously shrinking staff contingent has to handle the increasing maintenance effort. The other condition concerns building operation restrictions. Building measures can lead to considerable interference with the traffic flow and can cause tailbacks extending for several kilometres, in particular on roads with heavy traffic load.

worksite on the motorway Road maintenance to secure long-term mobility for the economy and the society

The only solution is network-wide optimised and coordinated maintenance planning aimed at minimising the effects on traffic in spite of the increasing number of unavoidable building sites. This requires network-wide optimisation not only for federal states but for the entire road network of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Coordinated maintenance planning is based on the "Directive for planning maintenance measures for road pavements" (RPE-Stra01). These directives are the first maintenance directives for federal trunk roads and were introduced in 2001 to gather relevant experience. A simplified version of these procedures and regulations can also be used for state and regional roads.

Coordinated maintenance planning

Coordinated maintenance plans (KEP) for the federal states are compiled annually and cover a period of four years, based on the ZEB data and the PMS and according to the specifications in the RPE-Stra 01.

The KEP contains lists, route bands and in some cases also maps for a network overview of the measures planned. The route band provides a "simple presentation" of the most important information and can easily be compared with condition profiles and route bands for the structural data, due to their similar arrangement. The route profiles of the KEP integrate the maintenance plans for roads, constructions and other system components.

This type of presentation allows the allocation of the individual measures with regard to geography, scheduling and finance. The route bands are one of the most important prerequisites for coordinated maintenance planning of roads, constructions and other system components. Shortcomings in the maintenance planning as well as additional opportunities for improvement can be very quickly identified in this way.