There are great similarities in the planning, design, construction and management of the road network between nations. Similarly, there is a common challenge in how decisions are made where investment costs are weighed against future maintenance costs and benefits.
In the planning phase, methodology such as socioeconomic analyzes and environmental impact assessments are used today. When designing, regulations are assessed on a life-cycle perspective. Between these fundamentals for making decisions, the possibilities in each project is to exploit specific opportunities or take into account object-specific requirements.
Flexibility is required in all planning, design and construction so that well-balanced decisions can be made. One way to do object-specific assessments where both investment costs and future maintenance costs and effects are weighed together is to use life cycle assessments and LCC. Another way is to use RAMS-analyzis (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety/Security). Analyzes of energy, CO2 emissions, scorecards and LCA are also used. Together, these tools create opportunities for doing the right decision if they can be provided with facts and fit in as a basis for decision making in a process for development and management of the road network.
Amongst the challenges of developing decision-making documents are the problems of synchronizing the facts of the decision documents (costs, lifespans, closing intervals, effects, etc.) with the decision-making needs for different types of decisions from overall design of road route, road type and down to spesific technical choices in the tunnel.
Around the world a number of road projects have implemented such tools aimed at creating good decision and to optimize choices with regard to life-cycle aspects.
The Nordic Road authorities has formed an organisation called NordFou that looks into the possibility of standardization between the Nordic Road Authorities. The project ETSI (Bridge Life Cycle Analysis) is an example of such a collaboration (project). The project ETSI has gone into its third phase and has provided tools which planners, contractors and road administrators can use to improve the quality and lifetime of structures. The results of the project should therefore contribute to optimise the functionality, design techniques, economy and aesthetic look throughout the entire lifetime of a construction. The main focus so far has been bridges, but now tunnels will be considered.
The NordFou collaboration wish to go further and develop decision-making methodologies for investment assessments, taking into account the operational phase in the decisions through the phases of planning, design and procurement. In general this should cover the problems in all technology areas, but the pilot projects focus on long-life or large-scale installations, such as Bridges and tunnels.
The following elements may be included in the NordFou collaboration:
- Inventory of decision situations where life cycle aspects must be considered
- Investment rules for investment assessments where there are long technical lifetimes
- Inventory of data sources (management data and cost databases) and they should be designed to be used in LCC
- Description of working methods today in the Nordic countries
- Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety analysis (RAMS) and LCC as pilots in the different countries