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Bridges & Structures

IBRC Program Information

(March 2005)


The Innovative Bridge Research & Construction (IBRC) Program was established with the passage of TEA-21 and was funded by Congress for six years, FY 1998 - FY 2003. With the current extension of TEA-21 for 20 months (through May 31, 2005), the IBRC program has been authorized, with full funding for FY 2004 and with at least partial funding, for FY 2005 as well. The program is intended to demonstrate the application of innovative material technology in the construction of bridges and other highway structures, and has two components. The larger component provides funds for repair, rehabilitation, replacement, or new construction of bridges and other highway structures using innovative materials. The smaller component is intended to support research and technology transfer activities related to the program's goals. This program information is provided primarily for the construction component.


23 U.S.C. 503(b)(3)(A)(ii) & 503 (b)(3)(B); TEA-21 Section 5103


Fiscal Year19981999200020012002200320042005*Totals
R, D & T$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 1M$ 8M
Construction$ 10M$ 15M$ 17M$ 20M$ 20M$ 20M$ 20M$ 20M$ 142M

* via the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108-447); however, only 8/12ths of these amounts are currently authorized under the program.

Section 5103 of TEA-21 authorized the sums shown above to be available to the States for projects to demonstrate innovative materials relating to repair, rehabilitation, and construction of bridges and other highway structures.

The amount of available funding is impacted by any obligation limitation imposed on the Federal-aid highway program under the provisions of Public Law 108-447. In addition, for 2005, funds will be limited until full authorization is received – at this time, only a limited portion of the maximum funding (i.e., 8/12ths) is available. If full funding authorization is not available at the time of award, funds will be allocated on a pro rata basis to the approved projects.


In accordance with 23 U.S.C. 503(b)(3)(B)(5), the Secretary shall determine the Federal share of the costs for any project eligible under this program. The FHWA determines the Federal share for each project considering several factors, including the size of the project, the amount of funds requested for the project, and the available funding for the program. It is the goal to fund as many projects as possible at a 100 percent Federal share; however, because of the above considerations, some projects may be funded at a lower Federal share.


Under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 503(b), the Secretary shall make grants to, and enter into cooperative agreements and contracts with, States to pay the Federal share of the cost of repair, rehabilitation, replacement, and new construction of bridges and other highway structures that demonstrate the application of innovative materials.

  • Funds are available for bridge projects that meet one or more of the seven program goals listed in Section 503(b)(2) of Title V – Transportation Research.
  • The project may be on any public roadway, including State and locally funded projects.
  • Funds are available for costs of preliminary engineering, repair, rehabilitation, or construction of bridges or other highway structures, and costs of project performance evaluation including instrumentation and performance monitoring of the structure following construction.
  • Proprietary Products – As this is a research and experimental program, it is in the public interest that proprietary and sole source products may be included in the projects, but they must be clearly identified and described.

These funds may be used for the Federal share of the cost of the repairs, rehabilitation, replacement, or new construction on the “innovative materials and accelerated bridge construction” portion of the project.


The only statutory criterion is found in 23 U.S.C. 503(b)(3)(B), the Secretary shall select and approve the applications based on whether the project that is the subject of the grant meets the goals of the program as described in the following:

  • The development of new, cost effective, innovative material highway bridge applications.
  • The reduction of maintenance costs and life cycle costs of bridges, including the costs of new construction, replacement, or rehabilitation of deficient bridges.
  • The development of construction techniques to increase safety and reduce construction time and traffic congestion.
  • The development of engineering design criteria for innovative products and materials for use in highway bridges and structures.
  • The development of cost effective and innovative techniques to separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic from railroad traffic.
  • The development of highway bridges and structures that will withstand natural disasters, including alternative processes for the seismic retrofit of bridges.
  • The development of new nondestructive bridge evaluation technologies and techniques.

The following criteria are used to evaluate the submitted candidates for selection.

  • Projects which will meet one or more of the goals of the program in Section 503(b).
  • Projects which will incorporate innovative materials and/or products that are readily available.
  • Projects ready for or near the construction phase will be given priority consideration.
  • Projects with designs that are repeatable or have widespread application.
  • Projects that leverage Federal funds with other significant public or private resources will be given preference.

There are no regulatory criteria for selection of IBRC discretionary projects. However, the following considerations are used in the evaluation of candidates for this program:

  • State priorities – For States that submit more than one project application, consideration is also given to the individual State's priorities if specified.
  • Availability of innovative material and/or innovative material product – Preference is given to projects which will apply an innovative material and/or a product made of an innovative material which is readily available for application in other projects and in other states.
  • Expeditious completion of project – Preference is also given to projects that will be let for construction or rehabilitation work in a timely manner. An appropriate target date will be for FY 2005 projects to be let to bid by September 30, 2006. For large-scale projects, consideration is given to the State's total funding plan to expedite the completion of the project.
  • Leveraging of private or other public funding – Because the annual requests for funding far exceed the available IBRC discretionary funds, commitment of other funding sources to complement the requested IBRC discretionary funding is an important factor.

Because the concept of equity was important in the development of TEA-21, project selection will also consider national geographic distribution among all of the discretionary programs as well as congressional direction or guidance provided on specific projects or programs.


Each year, a memorandum is sent from the FHWA headquarters Office of Bridge Technology to the FHWA division offices requesting the submission of candidate projects for a given fiscal year's funding. This solicitation is also published on the IBRC web at http://ibrc.fhwa.dot.gov. The FHWA division offices provide this solicitation request to the State transportation departments, who are the only entities that can submit candidates. The State transportation departments coordinate with local and Federal agencies and transportation authorities within their respective States in order to develop viable candidate projects. The State transportation departments submit the candidate applications to the FHWA division offices. After review and consultation with the DOT, the division office sends the candidate projects to the Director, Office of Bridge Technology (Attn: HIBT-10). Candidate projects for FY 2005 funding will be due in FHWA headquarters on or about July 15, 2005.

The candidate project applications are reviewed and evaluated by a selection panel composed of representatives from the FHWA Office of Bridge Technology and the FHWA Office of Infrastructure R&D, and an allocation plan is prepared for presentation of the candidate projects to the Federal Highway Administrator, for the final selection of projects for funding. The announcement of the selected projects and the allocation of funds will follow shortly thereafter.


Only State transportation departments may submit applications for funding under this program. A prescribed format for a project submission is provided in the format of a project application form, and the following information must be included to properly evaluate the candidate projects. Those applications that do not include this information will be considered incomplete and returned for additional data.

  • State in which the project is located.
  • Priority Ranking of the project as determined by the State transportation agency.
  • County in which the project is located.
  • Structure Name & Location - Provide the bridge name (if appropriate) and describe the specific location of the project, including route number/name and mileposts (if applicable), and feature(s) crossed by the bridge.
  • Structure Description - Provide a description of the structure including type (e.g., continuous prestressed concrete box girder), number of spans, total length, and total width (out to out).
  • Innovative Material - Specify the innovative material (e.g. high performance steel) that is being used in the project.
  • Proposed Work - Describe the specific application of the innovative material proposed in this particular request, and whether this is a complete project or part of a larger project.
  • Program Goals - The States' submission should show how the application of the innovative material will meet one or more of the IBRC program goals.
  • Letting Date - The proposed letting date for the project should be specified.
  • Estimated Costs - Provide the estimated cost of the project as follows: cost of the entire project; cost of the innovative portion of the project, e.g. a FRP composite deck, as well as preliminary engineering costs associated with the innovative portion of the project; and the cost of proposed activities to monitor and document the performance of the innovative material application.
  • Amount of Federal IBRC Discretionary Funds Requested - Indicate the amount of Federal IBRC funds being requested for that fiscal year. Candidates should only be submitted from projects that are ready to advance in that fiscal year. If a State is willing to accept partial funding of the request, that should also be indicated. Partial funding of requests is sometimes utilized to provide funding to more projects, since the requests far exceed the funding available.
  • Commitment of Other Funds - Indicate the amounts and sources of any private or other public funding being provided as part of this project. Only indicate those amounts of funding that are firm and documented commitments. The submission must include written confirmation of these commitments from the entity controlling the funds.


  • Priority ranking - Each State, in cooperation with the FHWA Division office, is requested to prioritize their candidate projects.
  • Funding for repeated applications - The States are encouraged to not submit candidate projects which essentially duplicate a previous project using the same material in the same type of application if that original project was funded with IBRC funds. For example, if in a previously funded IBRC project a State used high performance steel (HPS) for bridge girders, that State is encouraged not to submit a similar HPS project for funding in FY 2005.
  • High cost projects - The FHWA will attempt to equitably distribute funds to an applicant State in accordance with the State's priorities. However, subject to special consideration, it is to be expected that high cost project requests may be funded at less than 100% of a State's requested amount. In FY 2005, the threshold amount will depend on the total number of eligible projects submitted as well as on the total amount of funds requested. However, a reasonable estimate for the threshold amount for FY 2005 is $400,000.


For FY 2005 we are encouraging the applicants to submit projects with emphasis on designs that fully utilize the capabilities and qualities of the innovative materials being deployed. This might include:

  • Bridge components that are designed for rapid installation,
  • Combinations of more than one innovative material in a bridge component to best utilize the high performance characteristics of each material
  • Innovative bridge designs that result in beneficial features such as shallow superstructures, longer spans, fewer substructure units.
  • Innovative applications which enhance bridge integrity and decrease vulnerability to damage from both natural and manmade hazards.
  • Bridges which incorporate “smart” materials or embedded instrumentation for future continuous monitoring of operational performance.
  • Bridges that are designed for rapid, cost-effective expansion, such as addition of travel lanes.
  • Projects that stress innovative technology to monitor, measure and report on engineering and operational performance of bridges, particularly those with high performance materials, ranging from material degradation to cracking and/or loss of section to catastrophic failure.


Projects are to be screened for eligibility first by the FHWA Division Office and then subsequently by the headquarters IBRC selection panel. Other considerations are:

  • Projects approved in Previous Fiscal Years - Supplemental funding for projects which were partially funded in previous fiscal years will be considered but not guaranteed. Requests for supplemental funds are to be made in an FY 2005 application in response to this solicitation. These candidates will be prioritized along with all other FY 2005 candidates.
  • First Priority Projects - Every attempt will be made to provide funds for each State's eligible highest priority project. As noted above, high cost project requests may be funded at less than 100% of the State's requested amount. After funding of the highest priority projects, remaining FY 2005 funds will be equitably applied to eligible projects of lesser priorities. If a State's highest priority project is determined to be ineligible under the IBRC program requirements, that project will not be considered for funding. In such cases, the second ranking project on the State's submission will be considered the State's highest priority project.
  • Flexibility to the State to switch funds to other candidate projects - FY 2005 funding will be allocated to specific projects and those projects should be let to bid by September 30, 2006. However, the FHWA recognizes that legitimate circumstances may lead the state to propose transferring IBRC funds from one project to another. The division office will have the authority to approve such transfers and they should be guided by the following:
    • The State may transfer IBRC funds from an eligible, funded project to one or more of their submitted eligible candidates as they may deem appropriate. Funds may also be transferred to a different bridge for an innovative project of the same type.
    • The project receiving funds must be one of the State's other eligible candidates but need not be one that was selected for IBRC funding by FHWA.
    • The State must commit to building the projects from which IBRC funds are being taken, or provide the FHWA with adequate justification for not doing so.
    • The amount of funds transferred to an alternate project may not exceed the cost of the innovative portion of the alternate project.
    • For record keeping purposes, it is requested that notification of the intent to fund the alternate project(s) (project name and amount) be provided to the Office of Bridge Technology.


  • Coordinate with State, local, and Federal agencies within the State to develop viable candidate projects.
  • Ensure that the applications for candidate projects meet the submission requirements outlined above.
  • Establish priorities for their candidate projects.
  • Submit completed applications to the local FHWA Division Office in a timely manner so that the submission deadline can be met.


  • Provide the solicitation memorandum and this program information to the State transportation department.
  • Request candidate projects be submitted by the State to the FHWA Division Office in time to meet the submission deadline established in the solicitation.
  • Review all candidate applications submitted by the State prior to sending them to FHWA Headquarters to ensure that they are complete and meet the submission requirements.
  • Submit the candidate applications to FHWA Headquarters by the established submission deadline.
  • Review and approve/disapprove requests from the State to transfer IBRC funds from one eligible project to another. Send notification of the alternate project(s) funded (project name and amount) to the Office of Bridge Technology.
  • Record required application data in the IBRC online database via the IBRC home page at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/ibrc/. Separate instructions will be provided at a later date for entering the information directly via the Internet.


  • Request candidates from the States through annual solicitation memorandum.
  • Review candidate project submissions and compile program and project information for preparation of allocation plan.
  • Submit the allocation plan to the Federal Highway Administrator for use in making final project selections.
  • Allocate funds for the selected projects.
Updated: 06/20/2013
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