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Washington Airport Pavement Management

Program Overview 

Pavement condition is a critical measure of airport performance, and is important both from a cost effectiveness and aviation safety standpoint. Maintenance and preservation of runway, taxiway and apron pavements represents one of the largest capital investments in the aviation system. Ongoing pavement maintenance is critical because repairs are much more costly once the condition deteriorates below a certain level. Additionally, pavement condition plays a critical role in aviation safety. Aircraft perform takeoffs and landings under extremely high speeds, and are therefore vulnerable to cracks, loose debris, and other pavement weaknesses that result from inadequate maintenance.

Approximately every five years WSDOT Aviation conducts a system-wide study of pavement to assess the relative condition of pavements for selected Washington airports. The program serves as a tool to identify system pavement needs, shape programming decisions for federal and state grant aid, provide information for legislative decision making, and assist airport sponsors in making informed planning decisions. The program also develops accurate pavement inventories and identifies necessary maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

How is pavement condition measured?

The Pavement Condition Index (PCI) procedure is the standard used by the aviation industry to visually assess pavement condition. The PCI provides a consistent, objective, and repeatable tool to represent the overall pavement condition. The methodology involves walking over the pavement, identifying the type and severity of distress present, and measuring the quantity of distress. The information is then used to develop a composite index (PCI number) that represents the overall condition of the pavement in numerical terms, ranging from 100 (excellent) to 0 (failed). The PCI number is a measure of overall condition and is indicative of the level of work that will be required to maintain or repair a pavement. Further, the distress information provides insight into what is causing the pavement to deteriorate, which is the first step in selecting the appropriate repair.

The Washington Aviation System Plan completed in 2009 set PCI performance objectives of 75 for runways and 70 for taxiways and aprons.

To assist in developing the pavement program, WSDOT uses PAVER pavement maintenance management software. PAVER uses the inspection results to efficiently identify pavements requiring maintenance and rehabilitation, reconstruction or repair. This information allows the user to assess overall pavement network condition, to prepare and forecast the budgets required to maintain the network at an acceptable condition level, and to identify required maintenance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction activities.

Why study airport pavements?

There are many reasons why it’s important to evaluate pavements at Washington airports:

  • Pavement condition is a critical measure of airport performance, and is important both from a cost effectiveness and aviation safety standpoint.
  • Maintenance and preservation of runway, taxiway and apron pavements represents one of the largest capital investments in the aviation system.
  • Ongoing pavement maintenance is critical because repairs are much more costly once the condition deteriorates below a certain level. Pavement condition plays a critical role in aviation safety. Aircraft perform takeoffs and landings under extremely high speeds, and are therefore vulnerable to cracks, loose debris, and other pavement weaknesses that result from inadequate maintenance. 

The Washington Airport Pavement Management System (APMS) enables WSDOT to make proactive, cost-effective and strategic investments into the pavements at Washington’s airports. It also allows WSDOT to effectively communicate to legislators, decision makers and airports the pavement needs at Washington airports.

2012 Washington Airport Pavement Management System:

Who can you contact for help?

Eric Johnson
WSDOT Aviation
Construction and Grants Program Manager
(360) 651-6303
E-mail: johnsel@wsdot.wa.gov