Ontario’s Worst Roads & the Value of Data

Posted: June 06, 2018
Tagged As: budgeting, Municipal Infrastructure, Roads Assessment

Every year the CAA publishes its list of the ‘Worst Roads in Ontario.’ The individual results vary year by year, but the overarching theme is the same – keeping roads in good shape is a challenge, and there often isn’t enough money to keep our surface infrastructure in the condition residents would like.  As a result, many of the same streets from the same municipalities make the list each year, and many municipalities have multiple roads on CAA’s smaller, regionalized lists.

With 32% of road and bridge assets in Ontario considered to be in poor to very poor condition (according to the 2015 Roads and Bridges Study conducted by AMO), their replacement cost valued at $9 billion, and the annual investment gap at $500 million, it leaves many municipalities wondering where to begin the rehabilitation of their road networks.

Enter the LAS Roads and Sidewalk Assessment Program.  Our service starts with a detailed survey of the community using ta ScanVan equipped with 3D cameras, surface radar, video cameras and still cameras to evaluate the surface condition of paved roads and create an objective PCI for each segment. The data from the survey feeds into software called StreetLogix, which is where “the magic” happens.  Streetlogix can help prioritize the repairs to your road network based on a number of factors, including customizable local factors. 

With those factors in mind, Streetlogix takes the condition data and calculates the best possible repair and maintenance strategies.   This approach helps municipalities move away from the more traditional ‘worst first’ repair strategy to one based on long-term improvement of the entire network.  A small portion of budget spent today in preventative maintenance can delay or eliminate larger spending on rehabilitation in the future.
 
Image of sample repair and maintenance recommendations for the City of Kenora
Figure 1: Sample repair and maintenance recommendations for the City of Kenora

StreetLogix offers a user-friendly interface that offers power analysis tools, allowing municipalities answer simple questions like, “how much are we spending in each ward?  How do road conditions compare in our villages?”  Or even take a glimpse into the future and help answer more complicated questions like, “if we continue our spending at current levels what will our roads look like in five years?”  Or, “Council set a goal of 72PCI on local roads and 80PCI on collectors/arterials. What will that cost if we want to get there in 5, 7, or 10 years?”
 
Image of sample forecast of road condition with different annual budget amounts
Figure 2: Sample forecast of road condition with different annual budget amounts

This in depth analysis, and the flexibility built into the software, is one of the biggest strengths of the LAS program. Road planners are able to set goals and work to them, knowing that the decisions made will result in the best possible road network given the funds available. In addition, the condition ratings can be updated in between surveys to ensure your database is kept up-to-date as repairs are made or unexpected projects come up.

For those municipalities that appear on the Worst Roads list, having access to a data-driven, completely objective evaluations that help plan their repairs could be the key to making sure they’re off the list in 2019.  In recognition of the somewhat dubious distinction of making it to the Top Ten list, we would like to extend an offer to those municipalities.  If you sign your municipality up for the LAS Roads and Sidewalk Assessment Service, the roads named by CAA in their 2018 Top 10 list or Top 5 Regional list will be free of charge (up to a total of 20 km per municipality).

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