County road maintenance programs are a significant portion of county operations. For 2017, the 39 counties of Washington State have budgeted approximately $415 million for maintenance and preservation of the approximately 40,000 centerline miles of county roads. This budget also addresses the needs for maintenance and preservation of over 3,300 bridges and various road features including signs, ditches, culverts, guardrails and roadsides. This budget represents 30-50% of total county road department expenditure and road maintenance employees often form one of the largest employee groups in the county. County maintenance and preservation activities vary as counties address varying traffic, environmental and population characteristics across the state.
A Standard of Good Practice for Maintenance Management has been codified under Washington Administrative Code 136-11. Implementation of this rule was completed in December 2007. Maintenance Management is based upon the application of management principles to public works maintenance operations.
Preservation is most often thought of as those preventative maintenance activities undertaken to provide and maintain serviceable roadways and/or planned strategies of cost-effective treatments to an existing roadway and its appurtenances that preserve the system, retard future deterioration, and maintain the functional condition of the system. In addition, the process used to extend the functional condition by adding longer life to the roadway surface without increasing the structural capacity of the roadway can be defined as preservation.
For purposes of accounting and reporting under BARS, the costs of preservation are defined as performing those specialized maintenance activities that serve to extend the originally estimated life of each type of roadway, roadway structure, and facility but do not increase its traffic flow capacity or efficiency. This account should not include maintenance or construction.
CRAB assists counties in their roadway preservation efforts in two different ways. The County Arterial Preservation Program CAPP is a resource dedicated to the preservation of paved county arterials throughout Washington State. Additionally in order to retain their eligibility for CAPP funds each year, counties are required to use a pavement management system (PMS) to assist their project selection and decision process.