Towards Road Sustainability—Part II: Applied Holistic Assessment and Lessons Learned from French Highway Resurfacing Strategies
Roads are major transportation infrastructure whose sustainability of maintenance practices has never been holistically assessed due to a lack of a proper method. This paper applies a newly developed assessment method (see article part I) on a 10-km-long section of French highway to fully compare the performance of various types of pavement resurfacing policies, for all the maintenance stakeholders, and considering pavement–vehicle interaction (PVI). After presenting the highway section and the parametrization of the model, four alternative resurfacing frequencies are compared to the French standard maintenance scenario over the pavement lifespan. Results show that increasing resurfacing frequency generates gains in terms of domestic production and employment, environmental damage (health, biodiversity, resources), user budgets, and local residents’ health damage created by traffic noise. Conversely, it entails financial losses for the road operator and government (tax revenues and net present value), as well as time losses for users. On the contrary, the consequences of a decrease in this frequency are the opposite. Excess fuel consumption due to PVI governs the scale of the environmental and financial gains or losses of highway maintenance policies. Optima in terms of health returns on investment and user savings appear to be around a 50% increase in maintenance funding: for each additional euro spent by the operator, there is a user gain of 3.5 euros and a human health gain of 710 euros. Sensitivity analyses indicate that the marginal gains are highly sensitive to the thickness of the resurfacing technique for macroeconomic indicators, global Net Present Value, and operator savings, while the gains are proportional to the traffic and International Roughness Indicator deterioration speed for tax revenue, users’ savings, time savings, noise, and environmental metrics. The other indicators are either slightly or not sensitive to these parameters. To conclude, the entire road maintenance system must be redesigned, from the tax system and funding schemes to the prioritization of road “green practices”, to align all the stakeholders’ interests towards a globally more sustainable road system.
Citation: de Bortoli, A., Féraille, A., Leurent, F. (2022) Towards Road Sustainability—Part II: Applied Holistic Assessment and Lessons Learned from French Highway Resurfacing Strategies. Sustainability, 14, 7336