Improving MDOT’s Movable Bridge Reliability and Operations

Despite effective inspection and maintenance programs, MDOT’s movable bridges occasionally experience unscheduled downtime due to electrical and mechanical component malfunction. Responding, troubleshooting, and performing repairs can be costly, and more importantly be disruptive to users of the bridge. Research is needed to do the following: (1) identify best practices throughout the nation on movable bridge reliability and maintenance. (2) determine what performance data to collect and parameters to track to allow workers to predict component malfunction proactively, and how best to collect and display that information. (3) identify enhancements or modifications to movable bridge components/hardware to improve reliability. (4) validate MDOT’s current maintenance strategy and determine opportunities for improvement based on benefit-cost analysis. (5) determine effective ways to optimize traffic operations during movable bridge downtime. A strategy using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to improve customer messaging is appealing to allow users to make more informed decisions on when to seek an alternate route or wait for services to be restored. Unscheduled downtime of movable bridges has negative mobility impacts, affecting emergency response services, the motoring public as well as marine traffic. For example, the detour for the Charlevoix bascule bridge is over 60 miles in length and approximately 1.3 hours in additional travel time. Component malfunction also often results in MDOT personnel responding outside of normal working hours to troubleshoot the problem and perform repairs, including nights, weekends, and holidays.