3.1.b: Control the percent of National Highway System pavement, state- and locally-owned, in poor condition from increasing over 10% by 2020

Supplemental Report:

April 2017 Report (click here)

The percent of all Washington state National Highway System (NHS) roads (state and local combined) in poor condition is shown in the top graph. Pavement in poor condition for roads owned by state or local agencies is shown separately in the second graph. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) manages state-owned roads and is responsible for their maintenance and preservation, whereas local agencies (cities and counties) are responsible for maintaining and preserving the pavement on local-owned roads. State-owned roads account for 77% (11,434 lane miles) of the NHS, local-owned NHS roads account for 22% (3,321 lane miles). The current replacement value for the state-owned pavement is $12.3 billion; local-owned pavement is $2.3 billion(estimated dollar figures exclude consideration of roadway shoulders, ramps orother special-use lanes).

Why is this a priority?

Washington state citizens and visitors rely on the state’s road system to safely and effectively move people and goods. NHS pavements are of particular importance because they are part of a network of strategic highways within the United States serving major airports, ports, defense facilities, rail and/or truck terminals and other transport facilities. Preserving and maintaining NHS roads in fair or better condition is important to the region's economic vitality.

For the NHS state-owned roads, WSDOT uses Practical Solutions as a performance-based approach that focuses on identifying specific pavement needs and applying solutions at the least cost. As part of Practical Solutions, WSDOT seeks to efficiently manage assets such as pavement, at the lowest life cycle cost. Pavement kept in fair or better condition lasts longer,ensuring a return on transportation investments that serve the public for the least cost to taxpayers. Pavement that is in poor condition causes increased fuel use and vehicle wear and tear. Drivers pay $623 per year in extra vehicle repair and operating costs due to driving on Washington roads in need of repair, according to the August 2016 TRIP report.

Controlling the percent of NHS pavement condition in poor condition, as well as good condition, is part of the federal performance management efforts under the federal act known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). MAP-21 specifies that interstate pavement condition cannot exceed more than 5% lane miles in poor condition. Per the federal performance rule, each state must also establish performance targets for poor and good pavement conditions for the remaining NHS pavement on state- and locally-owned roadways. Target setting efforts will initiate once the federal rule becomes effective, tentatively slated for spring 2017.

How are we doing?

The majority of state and local agency pavements have generally remained in good condition within Washington state. Regardless, the percentage of NHS pavement in poor condition slightly worsened from 6% in 2013 to 7% in 2014. In order to maintain pavement in a state of good repair, applying Practical Solutions, along with appropriate funding is critical to a successful pavement program. With the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation revenue package, the percent of all state-owned pavement lane miles in poor condition is expected to decline to approximately 2.5% by 2020. The 16-year Connecting Washington package is a $16 billion transportation investment with $1.225 billion earmarked for highway pavement and other preservation needs designed to help critical state and local infrastructure.

The percentage of state-managed NHS pavement in poor condition worsened slightly, from 4% in 2013 to 5% in 2014. For locally-managed NHS pavements, 15% were in poor condition for 2013 with conditions improving to 13% in 2014.

What are we working on?

WSDOT is a national leader in innovative pavement preservation and maintenance. The agency undertakes continuous improvement in deploying strategies that maximize service life and lower life cycle costs.

  • Implement practical solutions - WSDOT uses the practical design approach to make project decisions that focus on the specific problem that the project is intended to address. This performance-based approach looks for lower cost solutions in order to meet specific performance criteria. Converting asphalt surfaces to chip seal (gravel chips bonded to the roadway surface) is an example of these strategies. The estimated cost savings typically range from $10,000 to $15,000 per year per lane mile.
  • Strategic pavement maintenance - Performing maintenance treatments at the appropriate time (before more expensive rehabilitation is needed) extends pavement life and results in lower annual cost. In August 2014, WSDOT implemented a policy that no pavement rehabilitation should take place without first using strategic maintenance to extend pavement life. To date, WSDOT is saving about $6.7 million each year by extending asphalt pavement life by up to four years with this approach.
  • Prioritize cost effective concrete pavement projects- WSDOT has drafted 10- and 30-year strategic plans to evaluate and prioritize minor-to-moderate pavement rehabilitation (triage) efforts, along with the more major pavement reconstruction efforts across the state’s concrete pavement network.Concrete pavement accounts for 50% of Washington’s interstate system and is aging beyond original 20-year life projections with half of state-owned concrete pavement over 40 years old. WSDOT expects costs to be approximately$95 million annually over the 30-year period for rehabilitation or reconstruction of 1,350 miles of concrete pavement.
  • Incentivizing local agency asset management practices for NHS facilities – WSDOT is developing a program with the objective to highlight the importance of preserving the roadway system, and to promote the use of a pavement management system to provide cost-effective solutions that will maximize the life expectancy of a roadway. To meet this objective the program will evaluate a local agency’s use of a pavement management system, along with the level of funding the agency provides to maintain their roadway system, and emphasize pavement rehabilitation over reconstruction to focus on cost-effectiveness. Approximately $75 million will be distributed through two calls for projects between May 2017 and 2019. The first call for projects will distribute $30-$40 million, and limits applications to the 103 local agencies with pavement on the NHS.

For additional information about the condition of the state’s pavement and the actions WSDOT is taking to maintain and preserve pavement today and for the future, see Gray Notebook 64, pp. 13-20, at http://wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/graynotebook/Dec16.pdf#page=13

Learn more about WSDOT pavement performance at


Learn more about the National Highway System at


Learn more about WSDOT's strategic plan and agency emphasis areas at:


Contact the following boards and organizations for ways to get more involved:

Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) http://www.tib.wa.gov/default.cfm

County Road Administration Board (CRAB): http://www.crab.wa.gov/

Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC): http://www.wacounties.org/wsac/

Association of Washington Cities (AWC): http://www.awcnet.org/

Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB): http://www.fmsib.wa.gov/

Action Plan