The New Brunswick Dept. of Transportation (NBDoT) is faced yearly with a monumental infrastructure maintenance task as it works to repair the largest infrastructure inventory per-capita in Canada. There are 18,000 kilometers of roads with 2,900 bridges that need to be maintained, despite a very limited budget. In order to address this maintenance problem fairly and defensibly, the agency built a linear program model that includes heuristic techniques for an operation-wide view that weighs cost, material performance, optimal scheduling and treatment.
Remsoft is the company behind this new approach, harnessing proven linear programming technology and spatial optimization techniques that they’ve long deployed in the forestry sector, to knew challenges with similar parameters. The company has their own modeling language and mathematical framework for operations research where they can adjust various parameters and compute the best possible outcome. These tools have been used extensively for forest timberland management that factors in cash-flow, risk management, harvest scheduling, portfolio optimization, and biomass and biofuel analysis.
In the case of NBDoT, the strategic planning exercise ran through a myriad number of parameters for the entire road network of the province. The results of the exhaustive modeling exercise were able to convince the government to significantly increase their maintenance budget (by 200% over three years), in order to reap longer-term savings. The system quantified these longer-term savings in both miles of quality roads as well as dollars saved. The outcome is 1,200 fewer kilometers of poor roads over past funding approaches, and a $72 million annual savings that will amount to $1.4 Billion saved over the 20-year time cycle of this new paving maintenance plan.
The calculated and methodical modeling in Remsoft’s linear programming approach goes through millions of alternatives and applies various predictive modeling elements that factor in both social and economic parameters. The spatial optimization exercise is a nice complement to the visualization capabilities of GIS, which is why Remsoft is now a top Esri business partner.
The company is eager to explore additional exercises with more assets such as bridges, culverts and road signs, as well as testing the factors for best performing materials for the various asset classes. This long-term tactical planning approach, based on a solid scientific modeling platform, provides an ideal decision making framework that eliminates politics and ensures the best return on infrastructure investments.