Summary of The Condition of Capital District

Non-State Federal-Aid Roads 1997-2003





The Capital District Transportation Committee staff conducted a survey of the condition of the pavements of the region's non-state federal-aid highway system in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady Counties during the fall of 2003.First conducted in 1983, this condition survey is the eleventh in a series of periodic surveys conducted biennially by the CDTC staff as part of the CDTC's Unified Planning Work Program.The survey is based upon visual scoring procedures developed and used by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).The assessment resulted in estimates of the 2003 physical condition of the roadway surface of Capital District federal-aid roads not part of the state touring route system.[1]The major findings of the survey are presented in Volume I of this report.Volume II of this report presents the condition ratings for each road section scored in the CDTC survey.Volume II also incorporates condition data for locally owned streets and highways on the state touring route system.Specific reports were not written for the 1997, 1999 and 2001 surveys.


This survey, together with the condition survey of non-federal-aid roads conducted every four years by CDTC staff and NYSDOT's annual survey of the state touring route system, forms a complete picture of physical condition of Capital District roads.





The streets and highways surveyed in this study effort were limited to federal-aid facili≠ties owned and maintained by city, county, town, and village governments within the Capital District.Federal-aid roads on the state touring route system (including a limited number of segments owned and maintained by local communities) are surveyed and scored annually by NYSDOT personnel and included in reports by the State regarding the conditions of their roads.



Overall Pavement Condition


The average condition of non-state federal-aid roads increased significantly in 2001 and dropped slightly in 2003, but remained fairly high at 6.8.Despite increases and decreases, the average score has been between 6.6 and 6.9 (a 4% difference) for the last 20 years of the CDTC survey of these roads. Figure 1 from the report, showing average pavement condition by year is included below.


The percent of non-state federal-aid roads in fair and poor condition dropped in 2001 to the lowest level since 1985 and increased but stayed relatively low in 2003 at 35%.The percent fair and poor has been between 32% and 46% (a 30% difference) for the last 20 years, and has gone from best to worst in that time period over the course of two only years.††† Figure 2 from the report, showing percent fair and poor by yearis included below.



Figure 3: Comparison of Road Condition Profiles

The comparison of the 1991 and 1993 curves are more difficult to analyze.There is about as much of each to the right and left of the other.The more significant difference is that the 1993 curve peaks higher than the 1991 curve.This would seem to indicate that the flattening of the curve found in other years is no longer happening.Instead, the curve is peaking higher than it did in the past.


The comparison of the 1993 and 1995 curves clearly shows that there are areas where the 1993 curve is significantly to the right of the 1995 curve.But there is no place where the 1995 curve is to the right of the 1993 curve.Thus it is clear that the 1995 curve is to the left of the 1993 curve.This provides us with an illustration of how the conditions worsened in 1995.


Pavement Condition by County


CDTC examined roads by the county their located in, owned by the county or cities, towns and villages located within the county.The measures of average score and percent fair and poor show similar results:the roads in Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties are in better condition, than those in Albany and Saratoga Counties.However, the percent fair and poor of the roads in Albany County has gotten increasingly better every year since 1997, and the average score of those roads has not decreased since 1995. Thus, the roads in Albany County show a slow, but definite consistent improvement over the last eight or so years.Also, roads in Albany County were the only roads with an improvement in average score in 2003 and Albany and Rensselaer Counties improved in percent fair and poor.This emphasizes the trend of improving condition of the roads in Albany County even though they are still not in as good condition as the roads in the other counties.


This also could be indicative of the cyclical nature of road conditions and repairs.



Pavement Condition by Pavement Type


There are three pavement types: flexible, overlay, and rigid.(Rigid pavements make up less than 3% of the system in the Capital District.)The data by pavement type wasnít as stable over the years of the survey as the system as whole, presumably because they are subsets of a larger system.Also, itís easier to maintain a stable condition over the entire system than to maintain stability over several smaller subsets.


Rigid pavements are now in very poor shape with percent poor and fair at 64%, and an average score of only 6.2.


The condition of overlays and flexible pavements in 2003 was slightly worse than in the previous survey (2001).However, the condition of rigid pavements remained the same, presumably because enough rigid pavements received minor repairs (keeping them as rigid pavements) to compensate for the deterioration of the rest of those pavements.This doesnít change the fact that rigid pavements have gotten much worse over recent years, and that they are still in poor shape and most likely will remain so for reasons detailed in the report.



Pavement Condition by Area Type


For the first eight surveys, roads located in urban areas were consistently in better condition than those located in rural areas.†† However, in the last three surveys, roads in rural areas were in as good or better condition than their urban counterparts, by measure of both average score and percent fair and poor.The condition of both categories worsened from 2001 to 2003, while the condition of rural roads worsened more than that of urban roads.



Pavement Deterioration Rates


Deterioration rates for non-state federal-aid roads in the region were developed using paired data from CDTC's condition scores dating back to 1983.Road sections for any two year period that improved by two or more points were removed from the sample, assuming that contract work or other major repairs had been performed.The remaining segments served as the data for the calculations.


Deterioration rates translate to deterioration curves. Figures 4, 5, and 6 , of the report (included below), show the deterioration curves for each pavement type plotted with the deterioration rates calculated by NYSDOT for state-owned portions of the state touring route system.The information obtained from NYSDOT only included data for the first 20 years of road life.These curves show that the CDTC deterioration rates are similar to the NYSDOT deterioration rates for the period of road life for which there is data for both systems.This implies that the extra wear state roads must endure is generally compensated for by more heavy duty roads and road repairs.



Red Flag Analysis


One indicator of regional pavement condition is the "red flag" analysis.This analysis -- developed and used by NYSDOT -- identifies road sections in poor condition.It is intended to serve as a warning mechanism, identifying problems which need immediate attention.


Of the approximately 193 lane-miles of road on the red flag list in 2001, about 49 miles, 25% of that year's red flag mileage, were either resurfaced or reconstructed in the two-year period 2001-03.However, during this same time period an additional 67 lane miles were added to the red flag list.Thus, overall, red flag mileage in the Capital District increased by 9% (18 miles) during that period.



Conclusions Regarding the Condition of the Non-State Federal-Aid System


Both the average score and percent fair and poor got worse from 2001 to 2003, but remained good.In fact, this is the first time in the history of the survey that the percent fair and poor has been so low in back to back surveys.


Also, for the last 20 years, the average score has been between 6.6 and 6.9 (a 4% difference).Considering that the average score varied only slightly over 20 years, the roads in this survey have kept a fairly consistent condition over a lengthy period of time.This is despite fluctuations in local funding, state aid and federal aid for local roads.

[1]The "touring route system" consists of state numbered highways owned by the state, and cer≠tain non-state roads signed as state highways for continuity in driving but owned and main≠tained by municipal forces.