Scheduling forest road maintenance using the analytic hierarchy process and heuristics

Elizabeth Dodson Coulter, John Sessions, Michael G. Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The management of low-volume roads has transitioned from focusing on maintenance designed to protect a capital investment in road infrastructure to also include environmental effects. In this study, two models using mathematical programming are applied to schedule forest road maintenance and upgrade activities involving non-monetary benefits. Model I uses a linear objective function formulation that maximizes benefit subject to budgetary constraints. Model II uses a non-linear objective function to maximize the sum of benefits divided by the sum of all costs in a period. Because of the non-linearity of the constraints and the requirements that the decision variables be binary, the solutions to both problem formulations are found using two heuristics, simulated annealing and threshold accepting. Simulated annealing was found to produce superior solutions as compared to threshold accepting. The potential benefit for completing a given road maintenance or upgrade project is determined using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a multi-criterion decision analysis technique. This measure of benefit is combined with the economic cost of completing a given project to schedule maintenance and upgrade activities for 225 km (140 miles) of road in forested road systems within western Oregon. This combination of heuristics, cost-benefit analysis, environmental impacts, and expert judgment produces a road management schedule that better fits the current road management paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-160
Number of pages18
JournalSilva Fennica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • AHP
  • Decision support
  • Road environmental impacts
  • Simulated annealing
  • Threshold accepting


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