The Road Asset Management Plan – Make it, test it and sell it. Mike Holeszko

Asset management by definition is the practice of managing the entire lifecycle of an asset. For a road, the purist engineer designs a pavement for an expected 20 year life taking into account many factors such as; subgrade resilience, expected commercial traffic loading, and environmental effects such as underground water or rainfall. Classic failure is defined as a 20mm rut due to repetitive loading over the design life.

In truth many existing pavements have well and truly exceeded their design life but are still in service. They have suffered the ravages of time including failure of the seal coat (oxidisation, poor design, stripping, gone fatty etc.), prolonged periods between reseals, too narrow for modern traffic volume and size, poorly maintained drainage systems, poor shoulder maintenance, and a lack of funding to keep them in serviceable condition. Typically they may exhibit conditions such as; cracking, rutting, roughness, poor seal texture, or resemble a patch work quilt through extensive patching.

Through technology we have arrived at a point in time where road managers can move from empirical funding allocations based on intuitive and experience based knowledge in one’s head to high speed detailed pavement condition capture via a survey vehicle and sophisticated analytical financial software. Additionally maintenance defect software allows collection, logging and pricing of defects to create defect backlog lists.

The perennial problem still exists of convincing those potentially non-technical, financial controlling folk as to an appropriate level of funding to adequately service the needs of the desired asset lifecycle.

This paper recognises the role of salesmanship, of pitching and selling a product or concept to a selected audience. The selected audience needs to feel a connection to the concepts presented, feel there is truth in the data and feel compelled to, in this case, fund (or buy) the proposal (or product).

The author presented a paper in 2004 about Road Condition Indices following the achievement of a successful pitch convincing the regional management team of where funds should be allocated. These indices were presented in a graphic format with various columns stacked upon each other (affectionately known as Chimney Stacks).

  • The road network was split into groupings by road function/category and compared road features within that subset (apples with apples).
  • Deficiencies only appeared graphically if they were below an indicative state of acceptable condition.
  • Road importance was graphically represented by Equivalent Standard Axles (ESAs).
  • The maximum value used to calculate an index was in some cases a statistical maximum just to eliminate very high isolated results. This provided better graphic representation of the population.

In the 13 years from 2004 the author has become acutely aware that selling the idea or any idea requires a pitch that may differ depending on your customer. For example engineers can be heavily swayed by a detailed engineering data and calculations rather than a fluffy concept. Politicians from a non-technical background could be driven by a different pitch. This paper elaborates on the RCI concept and how to orientate your pitch to gain maximum purchase of your argument.

Mike commenced with Queensland Department of Main Roads in 1985 and worked with them for 28 years in all facets of engineering within District operations.  For the last 5 years Mike has been the Maintenance Engineering Coordinator for Southern Downs Regional Council.

Career highlights

  • 22 years as an Registered Professional Engineer Queensland,
  • Being a mentor and coach for junior engineers
  • 2016/17 submitted and awarded 15 out of 15 Black Spot Projects for Southern Downs Regional Council.
  • Main Roads District Representative to Black Spot and Safer Roads Sooner State Technical Committee for 4 years,
  • Winner 2007 Roads Alliance Excellence Awards
  • Leadership Excellence Winner 2005 Roads Alliance Excellence Awards – “Innovation in joint purchasing and/or resource sharing”
  • Merit Award 2006 Main Roads Excellence Awards Business – Innovation and Improvement
  • Winner 2006 Australian Safer Communities Award – Pre disaster Winner 2006 Queensland Safer Communities Awards – Pre disaster Winner 2005 Queensland Road Safety Awards – State Government Initiatives
  • Winner Geoff Wilmoth Award 2004 and again 2017 – Best Paper IPWEAQ Conference
  • Personal Interests include: Grain feeding cattle, gardening, fishing, Sci-Fi movies, being in the great outdoors, and last but not least spending quality time with my family.