U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
The Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program is a 20-year (minimum) research effort to collect scientific performance field data from a representative sample of bridges nationwide that will help the bridge community better understand bridge deterioration and performance. The products from this program will be a collection of data-driven tools, including predictive and forecasting models, which will enhance the abilities of bridge owners to optimize their management of bridges.
The program was created by legislation as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) for surface transportation, and was enacted by the United States Congress in 2005. Funding will continue for the LTBP Program in the current legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act
The overall objective of the LTBP Program is to inspect, evaluate, and periodically monitor representative samples of bridges nationwide to collect, document, maintain, and manage high-quality quantitative performance data over an extended period of time. This will require taking advantage of sensing technologies, nondestructive evaluation (NDE), and testing tools in addition to typical bridge inspection approaches. It will also require close collaboration among stakeholders, State transportation departments, academia, and industry to collect data that are available but not currently gathered into a single database by the bridge community. The LTBP Program is designed in part to collect critical performance data that are not available elsewhere and merge it with data gathered from available sources.
Long-Term Bridge Performance researchers will conduct detailed periodic inspections, monitoring, and evaluation of the population of bridges representing the national bridge inventory by taking advantage of NDE techniques and visual inspections. NDE techniques are used to detect flaws and corrosion inside the structures and cracks due to fatigue, corrosion, overloads, and environmental conditions. For the selected bridges in the study, researchers will conduct recurrent, periodic evaluations throughout the life of the program and may perform forensic autopsies of decommissioned bridges to learn more about their capacities, reliabilities, and failure modes.
The wealth of data collected through the LTBP Program, and the subsequent data analysis, will:
Ultimately, improved understanding of bridge performance will promote safety, mobility, longevity, and reliability of the Nation's highway transportation assets and allow bridge owners to make better data-driven decisions regarding their bridge inventory.
The Bridge Portal is more than just a database. It not only contains bridge performance-related data mined from existing sources (National Bridge Inventory, State Highway Agency bridge element level data, national weather data, traffic data, weigh-in-motion data, bridge maintenance data, and other data sources), but it also serves as a central repository for all field data collected through the LTBP Program. Additionally, the Bridge Portal also functions as a research and decisionmaking tool by implementing bridge life-cycle and deterioration modeling using both mined data sources as well as LTBP-acquired field data to allow users to investigate bridge performance on many different levels.
Understanding bridge performance will be the key to creating "the bridge of the future."
Bridge performance is a multifaceted issue involving the performance of materials and protective systems, individual bridge components, and the structural system as a whole. The performance of any single bridge or bridge element depends on multiple factors, many of which are closely linked. They include: the original design parameters and specifications (bridge type, materials, geometries, and load capacities); the initial quality of materials and the as-built construction; varying conditions of climate, air quality, and soil properties; and corrosion and other deterioration processes. Other factors influencing performance include traffic volumes; counts and weights of truck loads; truck live load impacts; and damage sustained as a result of scour, seismic events, and wind.
A final critical factor influencing performance is the type, timing, and effectiveness of preventive maintenance, of minor and major rehabilitation actions, and ultimately of replacement actions applied to the bridge. All of these factors combine to affect the condition and operational capacities of the bridge and its various structural elements at any given point in the life of the bridge. Currently, some important aspects of bridge performance are not well understood, and some of the main factors related to bridge performance are not well documented. Attempts to assess how bridges are performing are partly based on expert opinion and/or analyses that are hampered by lack of crucial data, and thus are dependent on one or more assumptions or generalizations.
Bridge performance measures have different uses depending on the perspective and responsibilities of those persons using the performance measures. Bridge performance measures are useful for the following reasons:
A Transportation Research Board (TRB) LTBP Advisory Committee, and the three LTBP Expert Task Groups (ETGs) that advise the TRB Committee, were established to provide advice to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the research team on matters relating to LTBP Program activities. The members of these groups were appointed by TRB, based on their technical expertise in bridge design, inspection, maintenance and preservation, management, NDE/nondestructive techniques, and structural health monitoring of bridges. See Coordination and Outreach for additional information.
The LTBP Program is designed as a coordinated, collaborative, multi-institutional, and multidisciplinary effort with researchers in government, academia, and industry. The primary contractor for the LTBP Program Developmental Phase was Rutgers University's Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation, in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff; the Utah Transportation Center; the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research; Arora and Associates, P.C.; the University of Delaware; and the technology provider, Advitam. These organizations were awarded a five-year contract for work conducted through 2012. Additionally, a contract has been awarded in support of the LTBP Program, primarily to assist with the Long-Term Data Collection phase.
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LTBP Program Coordinator
LTBP Development and Outreach Engineer
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101
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