A methodological framework for cross-asset resource allocations to support infrastructure management
Porras-Alvarado, Juan Diego
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Resource allocation mechanisms have become a major issue for transportation agencies in the United States and around the world. For this reason, transportation agencies are exploring alternatives to modify traditional allocation mechanism due to budgetary challenges generated by the decrease in funding and the increasing cost of preserving and operating transportation systems. Transportation asset management (TAM) practices enable agencies to change the operation and management of transportation infrastructure from the traditional concept of “public-owned” systems to more business-oriented processes. One of the main concerns with the TAM framework and its implementation is the absence of an organized process for cross-asset resource allocations. Additionally, most of the alternative methods for funding allocations focus on maximizing infrastructure performance under budget constraints, but ignore the consideration of equity or fairness. The objective of this study is to develop an innovative methodological framework for cross-asset resource allocations, yielding a data-oriented approach to enhancing infrastructure management. The allocation module is comprised of three resource allocation mechanisms following a top-down approach: a fair division approach based on asset performance, a performance-based multi-objective optimization, and an asset value-based multi-objective optimization. In the first mechanism, the fair division method is used to allocate resources in such a way that all parties involved believe they are receiving a fair share of the available resource based on established utility functions. Then, Collective Utility Functions (CUFs) are employed to perform the resource allocation, which results in total utility and total envy values. These values are used to conduct trade-off analyses of the different allocations based on the CUFs. Under the second procedure, a multi-objective optimization formulation is employed to integrate efficiency and equity, where equity is taken into consideration by using utility and envy concepts, while efficiency is incorporated by maximizing performance. In the third mechanism, an innovative asset value methodology is integrated into the cross-asset resource allocation process, serving as a common comparative measure between assets. To demonstrate the applicability of the proposed methodological framework, a case study was conducted using two asset groups, pavements and bridges, from the roadway network of the Austin District located in Texas. Results from the case study shows that the proposed methodological framework has great potential as a tool to support highway agencies in performing cross-asset resource allocations at the network level.