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Long-Term Bridge Performance Facts


What is bridge performance?

Understanding bridge performance will be the key to creating "the bridge of the future."

Bridge performance encompasses how bridges function and behave under the complex and interrelated factors and stresses they are subject to day in and day out—traffic volumes, loads, and environmental assaults like de-icing chemicals, freeze-thaw cycles, rains, or high winds. Age, design, materials, and maintenance history also play huge roles in bridge performance. A bridge that is performing well is doing its job safely, efficiently, and reliably.

Evaluating and measuring performance is the most critical attribute in addressing bridge deficiencies; it will provide the knowledge needed to design and build bridges that last longer, perform better, and are less costly to operate and maintain.

Why study bridge performance?

The highway system in the United States is immense, aging rapidly, and being used more frequently and heavily every day.

Highway bridges are vital components of the roadway transportation network on which the Nation’s citizens rely. Bridges do more than help people to move from here to there: they are critical links that make mobility and commerce possible. The entire transportation system is so integrated in the daily lives of Americans that it is possible to take bridges for granted, like tap water and electricity—that is until a bridge used every day is closed.

What is asset management?

Decisionmaking tools and models that help the traspotation community spend budgets more wisely.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) defines asset management as a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, and improving physical assets, with a focus on engineering and economic analysis based upon quality information, to identify a structured sequence of maintenance, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions that will achieve and sustain a desired state of good repair over the life cycle of the assets at minimum practicable cost. It focuses on business and engineering practices for resource allocation and utilization, with the objective of better decisionmaking based on quality information and well-defined objectives. In simpler terms, it is about operating, maintaining, and preserving the transportation system in the most cost-effective manner to achieve the desired service objectives. In the case of bridges and bridge management, MAP-21 provides a decisionmaking framework and tools for bridge owners to better plan maintenance, preservation, and repair actions, the times these actions should be taken, and prioritization to get the most “bang for the buck.” It is important to know where to make the best investments and why those decisions are made.



LTBP: Long-Term Bridge Performance Program

Office of Infrastructure R&D Links

» Office of Infrastructure R&D
» Infrastructure R&D Program
»Long-Term Bridge
  Performance Program

»Long-Term Pavement
  Performance Program
» Infrastructure R&D Experts
» Infrastructure R&D Laboratories
» Infrastructure R&D Projects
» Infrastructure R&D Publications
» Infrastructure R&D Topics



» FHWA Launches Flagship Initiative to Collect Nationwide Data on Highway Bridges
» FHWA Deploys LTBP Program


Related Links

» National Bridge Inventory
» AASHTO Bridges Subcommittee
» Strategic Highway Research Program 2


Contact Us

» Hamid Ghasemi, Ph.D
LTBP Program Manager
E-mail ltbp@dot.gov
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101
»Driving Directions/Map Click here for directions and a map to theTurner-Fairbank Highway Research Center facility.


Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101