High-quality pavement is an essential element of Southeast Michigan's transportation system. All road users — from people traveling in their own car to bus riders, bicyclists, and freight haulers — depend on quality pavement for a safe, predictable trip. All pavement deteriorates over time and use. Extending pavement life depends on consistent monitoring and using fixes that are appropriate to the age and condition of the pavement. SEMCOG, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, counties, cities, and other local governments collects pavement condition data every year. This condition data is then used to develop plans that improve the region’s pavement through an asset-management-based approach to preserve and improve the road infrastructure.

SEMCOG uses the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) system to rate roads in the region. Road condition data is collected in the summer and fall, and then made available in January. The pavement database contains a historical record of road conditions, number of lanes, and surface type of roads. SEMCOG and its partners use the data to track changing road conditions, develop policies, and prioritize projects for maintaining roads.

Road condition data is available upon request in several formats:

  • Shapefile
  • Roadsoft
  • Maps

SEMCOG also works with local agencies to help them develop asset management plans for roads under their jurisdiction. The state’s Transportation Asset Management Council has created a guide for local agencies (pdf, 1.0MB) in Michigan, templates for developing asset management plans (pdf, 1.5MB) for roads and bridges, and guidelines for developing an asset management process and plan.

Southeast Michigan Pavement Condition Map

Pavement map

 

FAQs Regarding Road Conditions

What is PASER?

PASER stands for Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating. Sections of roadways are visually inspected for defects: Potholes, cracking, and rutting are the most typical issues that are identified.

 

How are roads rated?

Roads are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. One is the worst rating and 10 is the best. For reporting purposes, scores of 8 to 10 are rated as “good,” roads rated 5 to 7 are “fair” and roads 1 to 4 are rated “poor.”

 

What does it mean if a road is in good or poor condition?

The simplest way to look at the rating system is that roads in good condition are relatively new or improved and need only inexpensive preventative maintenance. Roads in fair condition are showing signs of wear and need maintenance, which can range from simple crack filling to grinding down the surface of the road and putting down a new top layer. Roads in poor condition are the most problematic; deterioration has become so severe that simple maintenance will not fix the roadway. Once a roadway is considered to be in poor condition, it needs to be completely replaced. 

 

So why are we continually evaluating the condition of roads?

By evaluating the roads we can then determine the best maintenance plan to keep a road in either good or fair condition. 

 

So how do you keep a road from falling into poor condition?

Michigan has formed the Transportation Asset Management Council who receives road condition reports from every area of the state. The council works with engineers, universities, and practitioners to look at various methods for road maintenance. Recommended practices are offered for a variety of scenarios. In each case, the objective is to prolong the life of a roadway in acceptable condition for the least cost. For a more complete understanding of asset management, view an introductory presentation used on this subject. 

 

If we know how to extend the life of a roadway before it falls into poor condition, why aren’t we doing that?

The simple answer is that even maintenance projects cost a lot of money. Frankly, local road agencies don’t have the financial resources to maintain our roads in a reasonable manner. This is the ultimate example of being pennywise and pound foolish. Since local road agencies don’t have the financial resources to perform cost effective road “makeovers,” small cracks are becoming big cracks. Potholes are allowing the road base to deteriorate causing an entire section of road to disintegrate. 

 

How quickly are roads falling into poor condition?

In 2004, 10% of the roads evaluated in the SEMCOG region were considered to be in poor condition. By 2012, it was determined that 32% of the over 4,000 miles of roads evaluated were in poor condition. Last summer those same roads were evaluated again and this time 43% of the roads were rated as being in poor condition.

 

Developing Regional Solutions
SEMCOG is a regional planning partnership of governmental units serving 4.7 million people in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan striving to enhance the region's quality of life.