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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / March 2012

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-011
Date: March 2012
Printable Version (.pdf, 1.1 mb)

The Place to Go for Bridge Preservation

A new online toolbox developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) means that bridge preservation resources are now just a click away.

As State and local transportation departments contend with aging bridge inventories, increases in traffic and congestion, limited funding, and rising costs for labor and materials, adopting strategies for bridge preservation as part of overall management of bridge assets is more vital than ever.

"A successful bridge program seeks a balanced approach that incorporates both preservation and replacement," said Anwar Ahmad of FHWA. Focusing only on replacing deficient bridges while putting off preservation needs will be inefficient and costly in the long term, as this will allow bridges in good condition to deteriorate. Preservation treatments generally cost much less than major reconstruction and replacement activities.

The Bridge Preservation Toolbox (www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation) serves as a compendium of bridge preservation-related information and strategies. The information is structured under four main categories: Legislation and Policies, Bridge Management, Bridge Preservation Treatments, and Research and Development.

"The initial content of the Toolbox highlights some of the great work that has been done by the bridge community. We will make every effort to continue to update the contents as new material becomes available," said Ahmad.

The Bridge Preservation Treatments section features information on preservation and maintenance methods and procedures, including repair methods and protective systems.

Visit the Legislation section to find the latest on Federal, State, and local laws and bridge preservation-related policies. Also featured are background information on bridge preservation terminology and links to State and Federal guides, including FHWA's Bridge Preservation Guide (Pub. No. FHWA-HIF-11-042) (see September 2011 Focus). Included in the FHWA guide is a framework for establishing a Systematic Preventive Maintenance (SPM) program for bridges. An SPM program can be implemented at the network-wide, highway system, area-wide, or regional level. Federal-aid funds may be used for SPM on highway bridges located on public roads regardless of whether a bridge is eligible for replacement or rehabilitation.

Bridge Management resources cover such topics as condition assessments, performance measures, strategies, cost data, deterioration trends, and life-cycle cost analysis. In addition to guidance from FHWA, resources include reports and information from Arizona, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, and other States.

In the area of Research and Development, users can find technical presentations, details on standards and specifications, National Cooperative Highway Research Program reports, and information on training opportunities.

Visit the Bridge Preservation Toolbox at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation. For more information on bridge preservation resources, contact Anwar Ahmad at FHWA, 202-366-8501 (email: anwar.ahmad@dot.gov).

FHWA's National Highway Institute, in conjunction with the FHWA Highways for LIFE program, will host a Bridge Preservation Webinar on March 15, 2012, from 2:30–4 p.m. (eastern daylight time). The free Webinar will highlight cost-effective preservation practices that can extend the useful life of bridges. For more information or to register, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/webconference/web_conf_learner_reg.aspx?webconfid=24138. Information is also available by contacting Anwar Ahmad at FHWA, 202-366-8501 (email: anwar.ahmad@dot.gov).

A close up of a worker repairing a bearing device on a bridge.
Work is done on a bearing device to facilitate the proper expansion and contraction of a bridge. (Photo Credit: © VDOT).

Three workers repair a bridge deck. A bridge joint is visible. A car travels across the bridge in the next lane.
Bridge deck repairs are performed prior to installation of a deck overlay, which can reduce the impact of aging and weathering (Photo credit: © VDOT).

A screen shot from the home page of FHWA's Bridge Preservation Toolbox (www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation).
Visit the Bridge Preservation Toolbox at www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/preservation for information on everything from treatments to legislation and policies.

Updated: 06/27/2017
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