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Culvert Management That Meets the Oregon DOT Protocol: Multnomah County, Oregon (Part Two)

For Multnomah County, having an up-to-date inventory of culverts is a high priority. It set off on a three-part mission to achieve this goal: collect data on existing infrastructure, inspect conditions, and schedule maintenance. Multnomah turned to Cartegraph OMS to unite its insights into one smart database.

This success story is second in a two-part series on Multnomah County’s high-performance operations. Read the original Multnomah case study, “When Access Databases Aren't Enough."


When a regional neighbor experienced a public culvert failure, Multnomah County officials had a wake-up call. They knew it was time to get a better handle on their own culvert asset management in hopes of preventing a similar failure on their watch.

“We realized we didn’t have a census of our culverts and we didn’t have the current condition of all of our culverts,” said Chet Hagen, asset management program manager with Multnomah County Department of Community Service.

Working with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the county decided to simplify the existing statewide protocol, then move it into Cartegraph to gather, assess, and prioritize repairs on culverts with high efficiency.


First, the team captured existing roadside assets in Cartegraph. Then, the team members performed in-person inspections of those assets—using Cartegraph’s mobile apps to measure asset conditions and photograph each culvert.

As part of a fall and winter preparatory inspection, the team assessed and rated culvert conditions using specific metrics—such as structural, hydraulic, and geotechnical conditions. Through the process, the team identified and codified specific problems such as cracking, out of round, pavement cracks, and open joints.

An additional numbered system helped the team measure where within the asset repairs were needed: near the inlet or outlet of the culvert, on the road surface, or inside the barrel itself.

“We have come a long way in developing our inspection program," says Lauren Spear, senior GIS analyst. "We are now at a point that we not only know where our culverts are located, but also what condition they are in and what repairs are needed. This data is invaluable in moving toward developing our levels of service and proactively managing our culvert assets.”


Now, with detailed information on 1,800 culverts, prioritizing maintenance became the next big step for Multnomah County. Using the critical stormwater asset data it collected in Cartegraph, the county identified a matrix of factors that led to an overall condition rating score. These scores, which fell within benchmarks from critical to good, allowed the county to identify which culverts needed immediate attention and which would be covered through routine maintenance.

Tapping into the power of Cartegraph's Automation Manager feature, Multnomah staff instantly generated emergency maintenance tasks based on their culvert inspection findings. As a result, road maintenance staff were automatically assigned clean up and repair tasks, streamlining countywide culvert maintenance and avoiding potential failures.

Now, the county has a clear calendar of repairs for its culverts and is currently working on implementing a larger plan to prioritize the rehabilitation and replacement of culverts based on inspection condition ratings. And, thanks to their efforts with culvert optimization, the team won a countywide innovation award for its implementation of Cartegraph OMS into the road maintenance division.