Improved Element-level Bridge Inspection Criteria for Better Bridge Management and Preservation

Over 600,000 bridges in the United States are a critical component in the transportation network for economy and society need. Assessing bridge conditions and timely maintenance are critical to ensure bridge health and cost-effective decision making in preservation activities. Successful bridge-inspection programs nationwide is an important element of assessing bridge conditions, and ultimately extending service life of bridges. Bridge owners nationwide have recognized the benefits of detailed condition assessments through the use of the raw inspection information, expanded performance measures, and bridge management system deterioration forecasting and evaluation, which are covered in the 2013 new American Association State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Manual for Bridge Element Inspection. The bridge condition rating of the United States is based on the NBI data of national highway bridges. Bridge owners and stakeholders used to assess the bridge conditions and make decision based upon these NBI data. The vast majority of the states have already employed element-level inspection for more than a decade based on the CoRe guide. The 2013 new AASHTO Manual, however, is significantly different from the former CoRe guide. As a result, the difference in frequency of inspections, element definition, qualifications of inspection personnel, defeat description and inspection reporting from state to state may cause inconsistency of data collection and ultimately affect the quality of element-level data collected under different states to be reported to the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). As newer bridge types become more common, demand of new guidelines for inspection ratings is needed to increase uniformity and consistency of inspections. To improve consistency in assessment of bridge element conditions and establish accuracy levels for supporting bridge management system deterioration forecasting and evaluation, the following challenges must be addressed scientifically and systematically: (a) there is a practical need for nationwide applications of high quality element-level bridge inspection. A more comprehensive, reliable and accurate levels for element conditions and defect types to accomodate this need is urgent; (b) AASHTO 2013 Manual for data collection provides criteria for element condition rating and defects description, but without reliability-based calibration. The factors that affects the quality and consistence of data collection can cause high variability. Thus, reliability based indices to account for correlation between levels of element conditions and critical factors (including inspector qualification factor, structural importance factor, material vulnerability factor, defect type/location factor, age factor, and environmental factor) are necessary; and (c) Existing Manuals introduce material distress for condition rating while overlook the assessment of bridge element conditions that account for performance, probability of failure and risk of failure, and thus cannot guarantee the desirable performance. New guidelines should address these concerns. Thus, to meet the requirements in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)” legislation and to ensure the safety of the motoring public, a methodology for assisting bridge inspectors and bridge owners to improve the quality of element-level bridge inspection data and enhanced bridge management is needed. Significant effort is required to develop the guidelines for practicing engineers, from bridge inspectors, and inspection trainers, to local and state Department of Transportation (DOT) bridge owners, to promote consistency in the collection of reliable data that support bridge asset management practices. The proposed research will address this important technical need by characterizing quality of element-level data, generating a reliability based correlation between levels of element conditions and critical factors, and developing new data-driven based guidelines.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    North Dakota State University, Fargo

    College of Engineering
    Department of Civil Engineering
    Fargo, ND  United States  58105
  • Principal Investigators:

    Lin, Zhibin

  • Start Date: 20160121
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180731
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: MPC-504

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01589712
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC38
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Feb 1 2016 1:58PM