The project-level approach to pavement management uses a bottom-up methodology to combine methods, procedures, data, software, policies and decisions to produce network solutions. In essence, a project-level approach first uses individual section data (e.g., traffic, ESALs, safety, inventory, pavement condition) to determine the optimum section MR&R strategies and priority projects, and then, high-level network decisions are made by project inclusion and exclusion. Because the initial decisions are made at lower levels (e.g., MR&R strategies and project prioritization) they tend to drive the overall network solution, which then may or may not be optimized for the entire pavement network. Thus, network priorities are enforced by the inclusion or exclusion of projects (since project selection and MR&R strategies have already been set) or by relying on the compatibility of project-level decisions with network-level goals.
Project-level approaches can be very useful and constitute the majority of pavement management systems in operation today. The key elements in a project-level approach are:
- Project-level vs. network-level goals. Since decisions are made first at the project level, the project-level approach requires more effort to coordinate the anticipated or promulgated network-level priorities down to the project level.
- Project ranking. This will determine included/excluded projects based on network-level goals.
Many State and local pavement management systems can be classified as project-level. In sum, although less capable at producing optimum solutions and conditional scenarios, the project-level approach is advantageous because it maintains the detailed project-level information needed to make fully informed project-level decisions.