In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Infrastructure Report Card gavPaving ahead: Model aims for infrastructure preservatione America’s infrastructure an overall grade of a D+.

Given that the report found the U.S. had been paying for just half of its infrastructure needs, the low grade unfortunately wasn’t surprising.To solve the crisis, researchers Fengdi Guo, Jeremy Gregory, and Randolph Kirchain at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub have proposed a new approach to long-term infrastructure preservation. The approach, outlined in the Journal of the Transportation Research Board, is called simulation optimization life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA).

Like other long-term pavement preservation strategies, this new MIT method takes a life-cycle cost analysis perspective, involving factoring in the costs of future maintenance to the total cost of a project in addition to the initial costs of construction.But what sets MIT’s simulation optimization LCCA apart from the other approaches is its embrace of various uncertainties, particularly related to the timing and treatment methods used to repair and rehabilitate pavements — known as the treatment schedule.