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Infrastructure Asset Management

August 15, 2017

By John Desens, PE – Associate, Senior Project Engineer and
Justin Petersen, PMP, PE – Associate, Senior Project Engineer

Infrastructure assets – transportation networks, storm and sanitary systems, utility structures, and equipment – are vital to the commerce, health, and efficient operation of every municipality, large and small. Of course, over time, assets fail; however, a strategically applied program of maintenance, repair, and replacement can extend the service life and reduce the lifecycle costs of each component.

A comprehensive infrastructure asset management program begins with an inventory and assessment of all municipal assets. Each asset is scored according to criteria such as age, operating-hours, safety requirements, and other local parameters that reflect community need. The resulting information allows the responsible agency to prioritize projects, maintain a minimum desired level of asset service at the lowest lifecycle cost of time and money, and budget for infrastructure investment.

An asset management program helps a municipality save money by considering all assets at once. For example, by knowing the condition of a street, the water and wastewater lines under the roadway, lighting and signage needs, safety and drainage conditions, and other criteria, a community can prioritize the projects based on the condition of all assets and address many issues at once.

Infrastructure Asset Management System

  • Inventory all assets
  • Assess condition of each asset
  • Score each asset according to established criteria
  • Prioritize projects and budget for maintenance and infrastructure over the next 5-10 years
  • Update program regularly

Infrastructure asset management can help predict the condition of assets based on age, material, usage level, and past inspections in order to schedule inspections and eventual replacement. Inspections are performed when an asset reaches certain intervals in its service life. The results are compared to the prediction, and adjustments to future predictions can be made, if needed. Scheduled inspections and replacements generally reduce the number of emergency repairs and system down time, thus providing better service. It can also be used to evaluate potential changes in operation costs that could reduce the annual cost of the assets.

A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping system links location of each asset with relative information – condition, age, prior maintenance, and photos or videos – of each asset in the system.

As communities compete for limited resources, a comprehensive infrastructure asset management program is a useful tool for municipalities to reduce operational costs, extend the life of community assets, budget for maintenance and investment, and prioritize expenditures.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration