Using Building Information Modeling to Track and Assess Structural Condition

As asset management for bridges and other transportation structures progresses, an important challenge that must be addressed is the need to systematically determine the effect of damage/deterioration on structural performance, including issues related to safety and serviceability. Currently, bridges are primarily inspected visually and inspection findings are recorded using the American Association for State HIghway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) CoRe elements for use in bridge management programs such as AASHTOware Bridge Management (formerly Pontis). Although inspection findings are recorded by element type, the location of the damage on the element is not recorded. Without information on location, the ability to determine and document the significance of damage is limited. For example, a large corroded region on the flange of a simply supported steel girder would be of much greater concern if it were located near the middle of the span where the bending moment is high, than if it were located near the end of the span where moments are low. The need to track location information in order to assess the implications of damage to bridge performance is not a new revelation (e.g. Estes and Frangopol, 2003), but modern software tools are emerging that can enhance our ability to collect, store and use this type of information. In a related issue, externally bonded fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) are increasingly being used as a repair technique for bridges, particularly reinforced and pre-stressed concrete bridges. FRP is applied in thin sheets, and can cover fairly large portions of some bridge elements. Mountain Plains Consortium (MPC) Project 340 considered the performance of externally bonded FRP after eight years in service on the Castlewood Canyon Bridge in Colorado (Atadero, Allen, and Mata, 2013). This project showed that regions of FRP are prone to debond from the concrete surface for reasons other than excessive loading such as environmental conditions and perhaps application techniques. As FRP becomes more common in the field, it becomes important to have means to record and track the condition of these debonded regions (i.e., location information) in order to 1) better understand the sources of initiation and rates of progression of debonding, and 2) to be able to assess how the debonding is affecting structural condition. Understanding FRP debonding is another situation where it is important to track damage with regard to specific locations on structures. For example, if 5% of the total area of FRP is debonded, but this area is distributed throughout the total bonded region in many small areas, this would be much less concerning that a situation where all 5% was concentrated in a single critical location. In both cases, a means is needed to record and store the location and extent of damage/deterioration on bridge elements and to provide a platform for analysis of the recorded damage. Such a tool could be used to assess the actual condition of the structure or element. Building Information Modeling (BIM) offers a great deal of promise to support the creation of such a tool(s). The three-dimensional (3D) interface of BIM software creates a platform that enables engineers to visualize and explore geometric relationships virtually and in real-time. The real power of BIM, however, comes from the association of databases (for example, information about loads, tributary area, reactions, moments, shears, and beam sizes) with 3D information, allowing previously unavailable queries, filters and analysis. Specifically, organizing data within three dimensions allows for software analysis that incorporates and relates locational information, creating new opportunities for data storage, manipulation and output. Finally, interoperable capabilities that support data transfer between BIM software and existing analysis programs (for example, Revit Architecture and Robot Structural Analysis) can further support accurate and automated data analysis. In sum, significant opportunity exists to use BIM models to transform structural asset management of bridges and a wide range infrastructure facilities (Clevenger, Ozbek, Fanning and Mahmoud, forthcoming). The goal of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of using BIM models to store detailed data from bridge inspections (particularly with respect to location and extent of damage), and to develop a preliminary analysis tool that can operate on the enhanced data stored in the BIM model to provide assessments of structural condition. The objectives of this research are to: (1) Collect detailed data on bridge condition from a real bridge and show how this data can be input and stored in a BIM model of the structure; (2) Develop a demonstration analysis tool that can take the information stored about element condition and assess the effect of recorded damage on structural performance (in terms of strength, for example). This demonstration tool will operate on a specific type of bridge element – likely the girders or deck; and (3) Identify the future research and tools needed to make the process of storing bridge inspection results in BIM practical for state departments of transportation (DOTs).


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • 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
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    Colorado State University

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Campus Delivery 1372
    Fort Collins, Colorado  United States  80523
  • Principal Investigators:

    Atadero, Rebecca

    Clevenger, Caroline

    Ozbek, Mehmet

  • Start Date: 20140521
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180731
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160919
  • Source Data: MPC-450

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01648735
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC38
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Oct 22 2017 1:15PM