A Geotechnical Asset Management Framework for the Department of Roads in Bhutan

  • Author / Creator
    Choden, Sonam
  • Countries around the world strive to improve the well-being of their people; one of the means to achieve that is to ensure a safe, resilient, and efficient transportation network. Bhutan, a developing country, in southeast Asia, shares the common goal of poverty reduction and economic growth through the provision of reliable and resilient road infrastructure. Roads are a predominant mode of transport, and given its complex geological settings, road infrastructures are not only costly to build but expensive to maintain. With the limited resources available, the key challenge has been to effectively manage the existing assets. The road network in Bhutan is continuously affected by geohazards and particularly landslides. The Department of Roads (DoR) of Bhutan has recorded over 300 roadblocks caused by landslides alone in 2020; likewise, a portion of the department’s fund is spent on clearing those roadblocks every year. Though the department has a Road Asset Management System in place, a comprehensive Geotechnical Asset Management System, focusing solely on the management of the geotechnical assets can help in balancing hazard and risk when prioritizing slopes for funding.

    The review of the existing asset management literature emphasizes the importance of geotechnical assets in a transportation network, assists in developing the taxonomy of geotechnical assets, and reinforces the criteria established for the risk assessment of the geotechnical assets. This research takes the state of practice for geotechnical asset management, landslide risk assessment frameworks, and current landslide monitoring practices; to develop a geotechnical asset management framework oriented at optimizing the use of limited available resources for risk mitigation. This framework is developed for Bhutan and includes steps to proactively and strategically prioritize geotechnical assets supported by risk assessment, to identify relevant and cost-effective treatment options to prolong the life of assets and hence eventually shift from reacting to failures to proactively managing them. The framework ensures that it is implementable right away, without having to incur huge initial investments. The applicability of the framework is supported by test implementation to a number of assets in a regional office of Bhutan and three slope assets in Western Canada. Importantly, the framework can be used as a basis for other regions with similar hazard profiles and limited resources for risk mitigation.

    Geotechnical Asset Management (GAM) is the process of maintaining, inspecting, and planning for the repair or replacement of geotechnical assets such as slopes, embankments, subgrades, and retaining walls. It involves assessing the current condition of the assets, identifying potential risks or hazards, and developing plans to address those risks in order to ensure the continued safety and functionality of the asset over time. A major portion of this research discusses one of the important components of the GAMS, which is to track and monitor the performance of geotechnical assets. Geotechnical asset monitoring using conventional methods as well as remote sensing technology can help identify changes in the condition of the asset, such as surface displacement or settlement or even provide an early warning system for potential problems. The review of the existing literature on the application of remote sensing to geohazards emphasizes the methodology, applicability, and pros and cons of some of the emerging remote sensing technologies used in Canada and around the world. This discussion has been reinforced with case examples of three slope assets in Western Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.