Michigan Tech has experts in innovation making a statewide impact: Chris Gilbertson, PhD, PE, and Scott Bershing, both at the university’s Center for Technology & Training (CTT). Gilbertson, associate director, and Bershing, technical specialist, received a 2019 Project of the Year award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Public Works Association.
Gilbertson and Bershing were technical experts on the project team led by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council’s (TAMC) Bridge Committee. The Bridge Committee received a charge from the state and responded with the 2018 Michigan Local Agency Culvert Inventory Pilot Evaluation to learn about its county- and city-owned culvert assets.
In seven-months’ time, the project team developed a culvert data collection method and assessment system. They also made updates to Roadsoft, the asset management software developed by the CTT and used by Michigan’s local road-owning agencies. And, they recruited and deployed 49 local road-owning agencies in Michigan to test the data collection and assessment processes on nearly 50,000 culverts.
“The TAMC and Michigan Tech received the award, but the success of the pilot would not have been possible without the efforts of many others around the state,” commented Gilbertson.
Bershing said, “This was a good example of multiple agency cooperation, working together under a tight time frame and deadline to complete the project.” That collaboration helped the TAMC to estimate Michigan’s total number of culverts at 196,000 with a replacement value of $1.48 billion. It also found that Michigan’s local agencies own and maintain 7.3 to 9.2 million feet of culvert assets—or 1,798 miles (the distance from Houghton, Michigan to Miami, Florida)—with most being corrugated steel pipe. Another key finding from the pilot was that a majority—67.2 percent—of culverts held a condition rating of a 6 or better on a 10-point scale.
Participating agencies benefitted not only from the results but also from the processes developed by the project team. These processes gave the agencies useful strategies for managing their assets and guidance for developing proactive management strategies.
“It’s rewarding to be recognized for the hard work we put in on this project”, said Bershing. Gilbertson echoed his colleague, saying, “I’m honored that we were recognized by the APWA for the work that we put into the culvert pilot last year. We are truly thankful to all those individuals who made this possible.”
Gilbertson and Bershing share this recognition with the entire project team and the 49 participating agencies. Without their support, this culvert project would not have been a success.
The final report for the pilot study is available on the TAMC website: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/tamc/TAMC_2018_Culvert_Pilot_Report_Complete_634795_7.pdf