Sign Structure and Asset Management

By Chung C. Fu, Ph.D., P.E.
The Bridge Engineering Software and Technology (BEST) Center
University of Maryland

Since the authorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, transportation professionals realize the importance of management. Asset management is a systematic process of maintaining, upgrading, and operating physical assets, such as roadways and bridges, in a cost-effective way. Recently, attention has been drawn to asset management which needs the combined knowledge of engineering, business management, economics and use of the latest computer-aided technology. It provides tools for decision-making and can create a framework for short- and long-term planning.

On-screen Graphics for a Sample Sign Bridge

Figure 1 – On-screen Graphics for a Sample Sign Bridge

An inventory of signs and sign support is a critical element for effective government transportation management practice. WIN-SABRE – Sign Bridge Analysis and Evaluation System, which can generate or retrieve any data set from the sign structural inventory and evaluate the sign support condition (Figure 1), was recently developed by the Bridge Engineering Software and Technology (BEST) Center. The BEST Center also cooperated with the industry to develop an integrated system with an asset management database, integrated with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for the District of Columbia.

Sign Structure Management System in GIS

Figure 2 – Sign Structure Management System in GIS

A proto-type of SSMS (Sign Structure Management System) was developed for the Washington, DC Department of Public Works to track their sign structure inventory and schedule maintenance of existing structures, and to install replaced structures. The system identifies the types and conditions of sign structures. A database correlated with the District’s GIS was established (Figure 2). The inventory is capable of cataloging all structures and electrical components, including posts, chords, foundations, sign size and materials. The WIN-SABRE program provides the functionality for the overall design analysis and evaluation details of sign structures.