The increased usage of an imported pavement management system by maintenance officials has greatly increased the quality of the nation’s roads, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) has said.
Chen Chin-fa (陳進發), director of the agency’s maintenance division, said the directorate imported its first pavement management system in 2007 to inspect the quality of the pavement on provincial highways, which fall under its purview.
A pavement management system is a tool used to optimize a roadways network’s surface conditions using software that predicts future pavement deterioration due to traffic and weather, and recommends how to improve road conditions.
“Before the system was introduced, it was virtually impossible to inspect the pavement on all the nation’s provincial highways. We did not have enough manpower to do this because there are about 5,000km of roadway under our jurisdiction. Even though we tried to ensure the quality of these roads, we could only inspect about 2km at a time,” Chen said.
The imported system has enabled the directorate to gauge the conditions of roads according to the international roughness index to identify which provincial highway sections require maintenance.
According to Chen, the index ranges from zero to 20, with any reading below six indicating that the road’s surface is in good enough shape to be driven on smoothly, while anything above seven suggests the presence of potholes, dents or road pavement upheaval that would result in a bumpy ride for drivers.
The system has enabled the DGH to calculate the index scores of provincial highways and identify the bumpiest sections so they can be fixed, Chen added.
“Despite the limited maintenance funding provided by the government, this key indicator allows us to prioritize maintenance work and determine how best to appropriate funds,” he said.
Currently, the road maintenance offices around the nation are equipped with six pavement management systems.
Overall, the average index score for provincial highways has fallen from 4.82 in 2007 to 3.65 last year, reflecting improving road quality.
Directorate statistics show that roads with low index readings are concentrated primarily in the country’s central and southern parts, with a section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County’s Fangliao Township (枋寮) that doubles as a contingency runway registering the nation’s highest index score at 0.92.