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Polk County Honored for Pavement Preservation

Published on Mar 9, 2023

(Bartow, Fla. March 9, 2023) — Polk County’s Roads & Drainage Division received the 2022 James B. Sorenson Award for Excellence in Pavement Preservation Wednesday.

The Sorenson award is presented annually to a city, township, county or state agency that demonstrates a high-level understanding and strategic execution of best pavement preservation practices throughout its roadway network. It’s named after Jim Sorenson who was senior construction and system preservation engineer, Federal Highway Administration Office of Asset Management, and a great champion of pavement preservation at the national level.

Road management is critical to Polk County, which sits between Orlando and Tampa. The Roads & Drainage Division manages 2,535 miles of paved roads, which is more miles than four U.S. states have.

According to Roads & Drainage Director Jay Jarvis, Polk County has doubled the number of road miles it treats per year in the last seven years.

“We’ve accomplished this by moving from a ‘worst-first’ strategy to an ‘optimized’ pavement management strategy,” Jarvis said. “This change has allowed Polk County’s Roads & Drainage Division to repair 42 percent more roads and to significantly improve the overall network condition. We’ve been able to wisely steward taxpayer money while giving residents a safer, better driving experience.”

Prior to 2015, Polk County practiced a “worst-first” road repair strategy. “Worst-first” means that roads are allowed to deteriorate to the point where they may need complete repair. Not only did travelers have to drive over roads that got worse with time, but the eventual reconstruction was expensive and required long-term road closures.

In 2015, Polk County implemented an “optimized” pavement management strategy. This approach focuses on applying low-cost treatments to roads that are still in good condition, halting further deterioration and prolonging the life of the road. Polk County also has utilized predictive planning tools to strategically repair roads, and analysis showed that the “optimized” approach would – over a seven-year period – save taxpayers $28 million, increase lane miles in good condition by 28 percent and decrease lanes in poor condition by 13 percent.

“The ‘optimized’ approach keeps our good roads good through preservation,” Jarvis said. “It provides a better roadway experience to residents, and it does so in a less expensive way. I’m proud that our team has been recognized with the 2022 James B. Sorenson Award for Excellence in Pavement Preservation. Polk County is ahead of the curve.”