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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently published Bridge Preservation Guide – Maintaining a State of Good Repair Using Cost Effective Investment Strategies. This short publication encourages state DOTs to think more strategically to maximize the life span of bridges. Specifically, the FHWA supports state DOTs employing the means and methods to extend the safe operating life of a bridge, particularly by implementing sound asset management principles. Quoting from the pamphlet:
“Bridge stewards and owners need to become, inevitably, more strategic by adopting and implementing systematic processes for bridge preservation as an integral component of their overall management of bridge assets.”
Optimal bridge preservation actions are derived from a complete, accurate understanding of current bridge conditions; allowing a broader range of alternatives to be developed and analyzed before spending commitments are made.
However, the most sophisticated, objective optimization techniques cannot overcome the use of subjective, variable condition data produced by visual inspection protocols.
Unreliable data produces unreliable results.
As further support for LifeSpan’s long standing position about the importance of capturing and using objective, precise condition assessment data; we offer the following from the 2011 AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation (MBE) Chapter 8:
“The actual performance of most bridges is more favorable than conventional theory dictates. When a structure’s computed theoretical safe load capacity or remaining fatigue life is less than desirable, it may be beneficial to the bridge owner to take advantage of some of the bridge’s inherent extra capacity that may have been ignored in conventional calculations.”
This statement and the alternative procedure provided in Chapter 8 of the manual confirm the significance of using advanced condition assessment technologies before expensive decisions are made.
In an era of insufficient infrastructure funding, bridge owners must be absolutely certain that repair or replacement are not the only options considered in resolving critical condition issues.
Our Key Projects Summaries tab confirms that less expensive alternatives to repair or replacement are common; routinely saving bridge owners millions of dollars. Bridge preservation is all about Safely Extending Asset Life.