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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-060
Date: January 2001
For all the sophisticated technology employed in bridge design and construction today, the maintenance and preservation of bridges still depends largely on regular visual inspection of the structures. The visual inspection method, in fact, is the predominant nondestructive evaluation technique used for bridge inspections in the United States. Beginning in 1998, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Nondestructive Evaluation Validation Center undertook a comprehensive study to examine the reliability of this method for highway bridges. The study was designed to measure the accuracy and reliability of both routine and indepth inspections, study the influence of key factors that might affect bridge inspector performance, and examine differences in State inspection procedures and reporting styles. The results have shown that the methods used and data collected in routine inspections can vary considerably from State to State.
Recent European and U.S. advances in recycling highway materials, as well as opportunities for State highway agencies to partner with others on recycled materials use, were the driving themes for participants at "Partnerships for Sustainability: A New Approach to Highway Materials." Held on October 9-11, 2000, in Houston, Texas, the workshop attracted more than 100 attendees from both the public and private sectors. Workshop sponsors included the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT), University of New Hampshire Recycled Materials Resource Center, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The National Highway Institute (NHI) has a new redesigned Web site (www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov). Visitors to the site can view the NHI course catalog and register and pay for a class online. Other features include a list of frequently asked questions, a "What's New" section, and a "Feedback" section that allows visitors to submit comments and suggestions about the Web site and NHI programs.
America's first concrete pavement, a 2.4-m (8-ft) wide strip in Bellefontaine, Ohio, made its debut in 1891. Since then, significant technical and design developments have made concrete paving faster, less expensive, and more durable. Today, however, increased traffic and heavier loads are placing ever greater demands on the Nation's roads. To keep up with these demands, the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century provided $30 million to "carry out research on improved methods of using concrete pavement in the construction, reconstruction, and repair of federal-aid highways." The Concrete Pavement Technology Program (CPTP) is the result of this funding.
With $1 trillion invested in highway and bridge infrastructure nationwide, the United States enjoys the best transportation system in the world. Having built that system and with our expansion days largely behind us, our biggest challenge now in the 21st century is to preserve the quality of our national investment.
Using a process known as value engineering (VE), States are saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year on highway infrastructure projects. This process means that when a State is developing a highway project, the transportation agency and the contractor reviews the project's features and looks for ways to improve quality, foster innovation, and control costs. In fiscal year (FY) 2000, States collectively saved approximately a billion dollars as a result of performing VE studies, up from $880 million in FY 1999.
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