The Power of a Pavement Maintenance Plan
The power of a Pavement Maintenance Plan
“A Pavement Maintenance Plan? Seriously? That’s ludicrous! Why would anyone want that?”
“You just fix the cracks and potholes when it’s necessary, maybe put on some of that sealer stuff now and then.”
These are typical reactions when the term Pavement Maintenance Plan (PMP) is mentioned, and those are just from my wife!
Most property owners and managers have similar reactions, a few rub their chin and are genuinely intrigued, though you know in the back of their mind they are wondering where this “sales” pitch is going.
The beauty of a PMP is that, if you so choose, it can be self-performed. It admittedly takes discipline and some basic pavement terminology knowledge but, in the end, it is a well worth the time and financial investment. BlueSky recommends partnering with a trusted partner to maintain your PMP or to train and advise.
The value of a PMP
As the name suggests a PMP is just that, a Plan to Maintain your Pavement. It is a structured approach that can be molded and modified to individual properties and persons.
The basic premise of a PMP is to build a structured annual or in some cases semi-annual, inspection and maintenance execution of your pavement.
Each property will require varying degrees of inspections and planned maintenance all focused around the severity of use and geographic location.
A warehouse with 200 trucks coming and going every day in North Dakota will require a much more intense program than a doctor’s office in South Carolina. Both programs are focused on consistent and planned maintenance with the goal being preserving the longevity of the pavement and thereby obtaining the greatest return on your investment.
Simple small incremental steps in your program will yield a significantly longer life cycle, maintain a consistent vibrant property impression, and allow to the mitigation of slips, trips, and falls that can be associated with cracks and potholes in your pavement.
The key to any PMP is to identify and repair small issues before they become big problems!
The Core components to a great PMP
The best and most effective PMP starts the day after your new parking lot is finished. Your battle against water and the elements has begun.
- Year one is the warranty period but now is the time to have the plan in place, so you are well prepared to review your new pavement and point out deficiencies BEFORE the warranty ends.
- Best Practice – Have your plan start 30 days before the warranty ends, do a detailed and thorough inspection. Take photos and document everything. This will serve two purposes; you now have a baseline to measure your pavement against every year and you have a detailed review of your pavement to assure your contractor makes the necessary warranty repairs if needed.
- Year two should be the year you plan on beginning your crack sealing seal coat regimen
- BlueSky recommends a fresh seal coat treatment after the first year and no later than the third year after your pavement is installed.
- After you seal coat for the first time, depending upon the usage and weather conditions your pavement should be seal coated every 2-3 years. Heavy traffic areas may require more frequent treatments or additional coats of seal coat material each occurrence, your contract partners should be able to provide guidance here.
- In the beginning, you should not have any crack sealing, if you do notice any cracks these should most certainly be addressed in the warranty period and may be indicative of bad workmanship or material.
- Before any seal coating, if the parking lot has curbs it is recommended to begin utilizing a hot poured rubberized crack sealant around the curbs and other structures.
- This is often overlooked! Remember, asphalt is a flexible material, it can expand and contract over time and due to weather, curbs, and structures in the parking lot typically are more rigid and will not move in unison to the pavement.
- In many cases, the parking lot is designed to direct water to the curb line. By not sealing your curbs you are inviting water to penetrate your pavement just like it would if there was a crack in the middle of the lot.
- Year three and beyond will set the stage for success in getting the longest life you can out of your parking lot.
- Just because you seal-coated the year before does not mean you are off the hook from cracks and other issues.
- By inspecting your pavement at least annually and at the same time every year you can identify potential problems early. Expect cracking to occur, seal cracks early and often, letting them go for any period will only allow water infiltration, which will lead to potholes and worse. Remember once you have a pothole you are already in trouble.
- Your annual inspection should at a minimum encompass;
- Detailed pavement assessment, noting any cracking or areas that are beginning to fail, look closely around areas where trees may be growing next to the pavement, watch for root damage in the form of bumps and cracks.
- Inspection of any utility structures in your parking lot: catch basins, sanitary, sewer, manholes, water valve covers, etc…
- Inspect your curbs and sidewalks, the focus should be on chips, cracks and any sidewalk sections that may have begun to lift due to tree roots or ice heave, make repairs as necessary. While you’re at it inspect that the sealer along your curbs and pavement joint are in good condition, treat these areas as you would a crack, at a minimum seal the curb line every time you seal coat the parking lot.
- Inspect and touchup line striping. If you are consistent with seal coating every 2-3 years your line stripes should normally be fine as they will also be redone on the same life cycle as the seal coat.
- Inspect street and parking signs, have a qualified contractor straighten any posts ASAP, you don’t want a pedestrian or vehicle hitting a sign leaning out over a walkway or driving lane.
- Make sure all your signs are clean and easy to read, replace any faded or damaged signs.
- Inspect all of your ADA accessible areas, assuring clear un-obstructed access.
Be consistent, start and end in the same spot every time, follow the same route every time and take photos of everything. We will mark a map every time with areas of concern or in need of repair and have a photo associated with the item. This way when it comes time to do the work and inspect the work you have a quick reference guide. You also have a photographic timeline. This can be advantageous in numerous circumstances, including potential property sales and litigation.
While BlueSky does a more detailed property assessment and year PMP, by following at least these simple steps you should normally be able to stay ahead of any major repair issues. Consistent and rapid repairs, while the problems are small will help save significant capital.