From mainframe to laptop


John “Mac” MacMullen

Professional Development Manager



The March 21, 2000 issue of USA Today reported the results of a study of road conditions in America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas conducted by The Road Information Program, a Washington, D.C.-based public education organization. Only one of the ten best-rated metropolitan areas did not employ a pavement management system (PMS), and five employed Micro PAVER as their PMS. Interestingly, the one area that did not employ a PMS has an ideal climate and is in the unique economic position of being able to afford rotomilling and resurfacing all of its roads on a 12-year cycle.


Micro PAVER is the product of APWA’s longest and most successful collaborative efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. The focus of this effort has been to develop a PMS that brought state-of-the-art computer programming and pavement engineering capabilities to pavement managers in the public and private sector.


In 1968, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began development of a computer-based system for managing pavements on Army and Air Force installations. The objective of this effort was to take advantage of emerging engineering technology and computer capabilities to produce a systematic methodology for optimizing the impact of funds spent on military airfields, roads and parking areas. Originally a mainframe time-sharing-based system, PAVER evolved with developing computer technology into a DOS-based program running on IBM compatible PC’s into its current Windows-based version. During the process of this evolution, PAVER was re-named Micro PAVER to denote its adaptation to microcomputers.


In 1979, the American Public Works Association (APWA), through its Research Foundation, initiated a technology transfer project to “civilianize” PAVER for use by municipal and county public works agencies. Funding for this action was a $250,000 cooperative effort of 80 local agencies in the United States and Canada that took part in testing and evaluating the PAVER software. This effort was so successful that since 1982 military and civilian users have used the same software for management of airfield, road, and parking lot pavements.


In the years since 1982, Family Modeling, GIS Linkage, Annual Work Planning, Cost Effectiveness Testing, and Condition Prediction capabilities have been added to Micro PAVER’s pavement management capabilities.


Micro PAVER’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) methodology recently received the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard D6433-99 for rating road and parking lot pavements. This standard, together with Micro PAVER’s earlier receipt of ASTM Standard D5340-93 for rating airfield pavements, makes Micro PAVER’s PCI methodology the only ASTM standard for describing distress-based condition ratings for all types of pavement uses.


Work is now well underway on producing the next generations (the plural tense is intentional) of Micro PAVER. Version 5.0 is presently completing the alpha testing phase of its development and will begin two to three months of beta (user field testing) in late summer 2000. This version will provide users with the following enhancements:


·        Flexible Reporting. The flexible reporting capability in V5.0 will allow users who do not feel comfortable with Micro PAVER’s eight fixed format reports to invent reporting formats of their own. These customized report formats will be capable of being named and saved by users.


·        User-Defined Fields. In V5.0, Micro PAVER’s current capability for users to define up to three fields each for network, branch, and section information items will be expanded to an essentially unlimited capability.


·        User-Defined Distress Condition Indices. In addition to calculating standard PCIs for pavements, V5.0 will allow users to create their own distress-based condition indices. Deformation, structural, safety and foreign object damage (FOD) potential to aircraft indices are just some of the example pavement condition measures that will be available to manage maintenance programs.


·        Ability to Model IRI and PCI as Functions of Age and Traffic. Micro PAVER’s current ability to mathematically model pavement condition as a function of age will be expanded to include modeling as a function of traffic and this expanded capability will also be applied to International Roughness Index data.


·        Interface with Automated Vehicular Inspection. V5.0 will contain an enhanced ability to link Micro PAVER to several types of automated data gathering technologies.


·        Built-in GIS. V5.0 will have built-in GIS capabilities. Micro PAVER GIS will no longer be for reporting only—V5.0 will enable users to use GIS both as a selection tool and a reporting tool.


·        Fully 32-Bit. V5.0 will be a complete 32-bit application.


Several components of Micro PAVER V5.1 and V6.0 are already under development. One of the most significant innovations in V5.1 will include an ability to create virtual tables containing information on sections that are not physically linked but which might be aggregated for project purposes. In an era of virtual reality, pavement managers will be able to bundle maintenance and repair projects into more cost-effective invitations for bids. In conjunction with these virtual section and project formulation capabilities, an interactive work plan will be implemented. This interactive work plan will allow users to apply specific work types to specific branches and/or sections and formulate projects across many sections, branches, or even networks. A third improvement in work planning capabilities will allow specific maintenance responses to be selected based upon multiple levels of two selected condition indices.


A long-awaited enhancement to be included in V5.1 will allow the improved pavement conditions resulting from localized maintenance activities to be reflected in work planning. Without this capability, local M&R activities must be subjectively defended by pavement managers at budget time. This feature will mirror the improved condition ratings which currently result from global preventive maintenance treatments and will reflect credit for all of an agency’s maintenance activities.


In V5.0, users will have a built-in object-oriented Geographic Information System (GIS) capability. While not as sophisticated as a stand-alone GIS, this feature will bring to pavement managers a much higher level of graphical information exchange than they might otherwise have access to.


Municipal governments, state and local aviation agencies, and commercial retail chains all have large investments in pavements. Very few can afford to let their pavements deteriorate to the point of poor serviceability levels, and fewer still can afford the cost of not optimizing pavement maintenance expenditures. A PMS that allows managers to compare the economic and physical impacts of alternative maintenance methods and funding levels is what separates top rated organizations from all others.


For more information, contact John “Mac” MacMullen  at (816) 472-6100 or