Videos taken right after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in September 2005 show the monumental clean-up and recovery work the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOTD) faced.

Highways had clearly taken a battering from fallen trees, boats, and building debris. But some impacts were less obvious.

“A great deal of New Orleans was under water for a long time,” says Jason Chapman of LaDOTD’s Data Collection & Management Systems group. “The sub-base may have been weakened or washed away in places. There were also concerns that pavement deterioration was worsened by heavy vehicles pounding roads while they were still wet.”

Highways in southwest Louisiana sustained similar damage.

This left asset managers and highway engineers with challenging questions: Which sections of road had been affected, to what extent, and which were priorities for funding and treatment?

Fortunately, they had a head start.

Next page: Building the foundation