The Worst-First Policy

worst-first policy

Is worst first really the best policy?


A large US city has stated in its Capital Improvement Plan:

“a thorough planning and programming process will identify and select projects which address the worst problems first”.


If you are an elected official or department director, worst-first may be politically seductive because it is reassuring to the public when  you tell them that you are doing the worst roads first. However, using this criterion can lead to disastrous results.

This is a very poor strategy that can easily bankrupt your agency. When you wait for worst-first, you wait until structural damage has already occurred and major rehabilitation is required. Once structural damage occurs, pavement preservation is no longer a viable option.

This makes worst first the most expensive strategy you can employ.

Large municipalities such as Los Angeles, CA and small townships like Minisink, N.Y. have adopted pavement preservation programs. In fact, new types of governments have evolved that merge both city and county for pavement preservation projects. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County (Metro Nashville) is an example.

A properly executed pavement preservation program will yield the desired results of better roads, expenditure of fewer maintenance dollars, and improved traffic flow.

Pavement preservation through preventive maintenance is the key to maximizing your budget dollars and this involves a shift from worst-first to optimum timing.

With Hawk-Seal-E (HSE) in your arsenal you will have a product that will allow you to significantly reduce your routine maintenance expenses while far exceeding a surface’s design life.

This is the equivalent of finding new money in your existing budget!