Maintenance guidance for planning studies

Avoid maintenance issues down the road by including this guidance in your planning process.

Make these considerations part of the conversation throughout project development to lead to the best long-term outcome for maintenance operations upon project completion.

Before you start

Read Chapter 11 of the Maintenance Manual (PDF 8.7MB).

Read Chapter 301 of the Design Manual.

The Deliverables Expectations Matrix (PDF 540MB) in Section 305-3(2) of the Design Manual advocates involving maintenance early. Regional maintenance staff should be consulted no later than at the strategies development phase.

Consider construction of new assets

If your recommendation includes capital construction that adds new infrastructure assets to the system, it is important to identify the impact of this capital construction to maintenance operations. To estimate these system addition impacts, use the established rule of multiplying estimated capital construction costs by 0.5%. The product of this calculation represents the on-going biennial expenses needed to maintain this new infrastructure.

Recognizing that maintenance budgets represent operational funding, while new construction is funded from as a capital budget item, it is important to show these costs as separate. In other words, identify the estimated capital cost of the project (one-time) along with a separate line item showing the calculated operational (on-going maintenance) costs of the project moving forward.

Align with state law

The language within and the approach to planning studies should align with state law:

State law directs that WSDOT “…must ensure the preservation of the existing highway system” (RCW 47.05) and that Preservation is a priority transportation policy goal (RCW 47.04.280). As such, the Maintenance division fully supports meeting our preservation and maintenance obligations in accordance with RCW 47.05, prior to expanding the system, as the equitable and sustainable way to meet this direction.

Communicate within your region

Regional planners should communicate with maintenance staff within their region. Maintenance has identified field reviews as the primary and most effective method of communication for their staff. Regions are strongly encouraged to perform multiple field reviews with the appropriate maintenance disciplines.

Maintain access

Identify planned and designed access points to allow crews to maintain assets.

Maintain route continuity

Example: You might save money by reducing shoulder width. However, if a maintenance crew has to have full traffic control and take a lane for things like cleaning a catch basin or sweeping in the long run, then the earlier savings is lost to maintenance operations.

Know equipment availability

While planning for reconstruction of assets, communicate with maintenance to ensure that these can be operated and maintained with existing equipment.

Clarify agreements and the roles of locals

Identify the financial needs and responsibilities related to maintenance of the newly preserved, reconstructed, or new assets. Define what is and is not covered by city state agreement. Detail the on-going permit costs that extend beyond construction agreements, in order to clarify roles of financial responsibility. 

Example: Who (tribal, WSDOT, etc.) maintains fish passages? 

Some city streets function as part of the state transportation system. Maintenance of these streets requires ongoing agreements between WSDOT and local jurisdictions. 

Refer to City Streets as Part of State Highways (PDF 4.3MB) in Appendix A of the Maintenance Manual for more information on working with local jurisdictions on shared maintenance and operations responsibilities.

Additional guidance can be found in the Agreements Manual (PDF 1.7MB); especially:

  • Chapter 4 on government contract agreements.
  • Chapter 5 on maintenance agreements.

See also RCW47.24.020 (6) (13) and (17) for more information on the jurisdiction and responsibilities for maintenance, control and other duties, and the updated population thresholds for these agreements.

Include owner manuals and mitigation plans in final planning products

Design/Contract mitigation and compliance plans should be included in owner manuals to ensure consistency between asset management and asset management plans.

Example assets covered under these plans include storm water ponds and fish passages.

Slow down on ice and snow.

It's easier to skid or lose control traveling at higher speeds. Give yourself more time to stop.

Carry chains, practice installing them.

Winter conditions could mean chains are required on your route. Practice putting them on your vehicle ahead of time.

Pack your winter car kit.

Carry extra supplies like warm clothing, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables and other emergency items.