Use of Life Cycle Cost Analysis to Enhance Inspection Planning for Transportation Infrastructure

The poor current condition and continued deterioration of transportation assets, including bridges and other structures, is a well-documented concern in the United States (ASCE 2017). State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are challenged with the need to improve (or at least maintain) the condition of large networks of assets with inadequate budgets. Inspection is an important part of the asset management process that provides the information upon which maintenance and repair decisions are made. This proposal focuses on the specific issues associated with bridges, but the framework is anticipated to have applications to other types of infrastructure. For the past several decades, U.S. bridge inspection practices have been based on a model that requires most bridges be inspected on a fixed two-year cycle, and where the vast majority of inspections are conducted visually. There is a growing recognition that bridge inspection practices are in need of enhancement in order to provide for public safety and the most effective use of maintenance and repair budgets (ASCE/SEI-AASHTO Ad Hoc Group, 2009). For example, recent research has studied the development of risk based inspection practices that seek to extend inspection periods for low risk bridges and focus inspection efforts on the most critical elements (Washer et. al., 2014). A significant body of research has also investigated the application of a variety of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) techniques to bridge inspection (particularly bridge decks) (Gucunski, 2013). The potential of NDE methods beyond visual inspection to enhance the understanding of bridge condition has been demonstrated; but challenges remain in the effective utilization of NDE by DOTs. One significant limitation is the difficulty in interpretation of collected data that limits the accuracy of NDE techniques. For example, recent analysis of commercially conducted NDE bridge deck scans on four Colorado bridges showed that the scanned results often did a poor job of identifying areas on bridge decks in need of repair and in estimating the level of repair needed (Vemuri and Atadero, 2016). Another issue limiting the application of NDE (beyond visual inspection) by state transportation agencies is the cost. States currently have well established practices by which they conduct and pay for routine visual inspections. Introducing other NDE methods as routine is challenging because they are not yet in a position to replace visual inspection, and thus are viewed as an additional cost that must be paid. Paying for NDE might reduce the funding available to conduct preventive maintenance or repair structures. On the other hand, NDE might be a cost savings measure if its findings are accurate enough to prevent mobilizing a large construction crew for only a limited amount of repair work, or if it ensures that repairs are conducted in a timely fashion while repair costs are still lower (i.e., the structure has not deteriorated to a poorer condition stage where the cost of repair is significantly higher). In order for transportation agencies to adjust their inspection practices to best use the capabilities of various NDE techniques beyond visual inspection, they must have confidence in the methods to inspect the bridge and an understanding of the lifecycle cost implications of NDE use. This study will focus specifically on the lifecycle cost implications of using NDE methods besides visual inspection to inspect bridges.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $108000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Mountain-Plains Consortium

    North Dakota State University
    Fargo, ND  United States  58108
  • Project Managers:

    Tolliver, Denver

  • Performing Organizations:

    Colorado State University, Fort Collins

    Fort Collins, CO  United States  80523
  • Principal Investigators:

    Atadero, Rebecca

    Ozbek, Mehmet

  • Start Date: 20180825
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240731
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Source Data: MPC-533

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01646234
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747108
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Sep 20 2017 3:07PM