U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content
FacebookYouTubeTwitterFlickrLinkedIn

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

LTBP Home | About | Publications | Community | Data Analysis | Data Collection | Products | Truck Size and Weight | Nondestructive Evalution and Structural Health Monitoring

 

 

Data Collection

 

 

Overview

The goal of the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program's data collection effort is to inspect, evaluate, and periodically monitor representative samples of bridges nationwide to achieve the following:

  • Collect, document, maintain, and manage high-quality quantitative performance data over an extended period of time.
  • Construct a research-quality database on bridge condition and performance.
  • Assist with the development of improved design methods and maintenance/preservation practices.

 

This data collection effort will benefit the following:

  • LTBP Program: Will advance research in deterioration and predictive models and provide improved inspection and condition information through nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and structural health monitoring (SHM).
  • Bridge owners: Will have access to tools that will help them tailor management practices to optimize resource allocation and quantify the effectiveness of various maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation strategies.
  • Stakeholders and the LTBP Community: Will develop long-term relationships across government, industry, and academia, leading to a collaborative, sustainable, long-term research and development effort.

 

[Back to the top]

 

What Data is the LTBP Program Collecting?

The LTBP Program is collecting quantitative, research-quality bridge performance data on a national basis over time to facilitate quantifying the effects of external inputs and internal attributes at an individual and population level.

The initial data collection effort is focused first on untreated concrete bridge decks and is then focused on treated concrete bridge decks. Data collection for joints and bearings occurs concurrently with deck evaluations which permits addressing several of the LTBP Program's high priority issues concurrently. As time progresses the program will expand to include additional bridges and will collect data more efficiently in subsequent cycles.

Legacy Data Mining

Mining bridge documentation and legacy data provides a broader context and comparative framework for the reference and cluster bridges (see below) and allows for the identification of potential trends that may merit further examination.

High Priority Bridge Performance Issues

Bridge performance is a multifaceted issue involving performance of materials and protective systems, performance of individual components of the bridge, and performance of the structural system as a whole. The LTBP Program was initiated to collect, store, and analyze the data necessary to better understand high priority bridge performance issues. The success of the program depends on first being able to identify the most important performance issues that bridge owners face. To identify these issues, input was sought from those bridge owners and other key stakeholders. As part of this outreach, bridge experts in 15 State transportation departments were interviewed and asked to name the performance issues in their bridge inventory that are most common and/or most difficult to solve. The findings of these interviews are included in report FHWA-HRT-14-052, LTBP High Priority Bridge Performance Issues, published in 2014.

To supplement these interviews and identify high priority issues related to bridge substructures, a workshop on substructure performance issues was held. The findings from the interviews and the substructure workshop were used to develop a list of 22 high priority performance issues. From this list, a shorter list of six bridge performance issues was recommended as the first group of issues for study under the LTBP Program.

Based on input from stakeholders and considering current resources of the program, the following key topics in table 1 will initially be addressed:

Table 1. Initial study topics for the LTBP Program.
Category Issue
Decks Untreated concrete bridge decks
Decks Treated concrete bridge decks
Joints Bridge deck joints
Bearings Bridge bearings
Steel Bridges Coatings for steel superstructure elements
Prestressed concrete bridges Detection of condition of embedded pretensioned strands and post-tensioning tendons

 

Each of these high priority performance issues will be examined in detail, and the specific data necessary to study the issues will be identified.

[Back to the top]

 

How is the LTBP Program Collecting Data?

To ensure that LTBP Program data are collected in a consistent manner over the duration of the program, data collection protocols are being developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for use by practitioners, LTBP researchers, and decisionmakers involved with the research, design, construction, inspection, maintenance, and management of bridges. The LTBP Program protocols are for research purposes and intended primarily for use within the LTBP Program. Report FHWA-HRT-16-007, Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program Protocols, Version 1, was published in January 2016.

More information about the LTBP Program Protocols can be found on the Products page.

Where is the LTBP Program Collecting Data?

The LTBP Program is currently collecting data on approximately 500 bridges throughout the United States. Figure 1 shows the bridge regions that the LTBP Program has determined for its data collection efforts. These regions provide the names of the concentrated areas of bridges, known as clusters and corridors, that were selected using a multi-tiered sampling approach.

Figure 1. Map. LTBP Program clusters and corridors bridge regions. This map shows the bridge regions that the LTBP has designated; each State is shaded according to their assigned region. The Northeast region (pink) includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Mid-Atlantic region (turquoise) includes Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The East Central region (light green) includes Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. The Mid West (Central) region (blue) includes Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Gulf Coast region (orange) includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and Texas. The Rocky Mountains region (dark turquoise) includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The Northwest region (dark green) includes Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. The Southwest region (dark pink) includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The Corridor region (purple) includes Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Figure 1. Map. LTBP Program bridge cluster and corridor regions.

Bridge Selection Methodology

Given the large and diverse population of bridges throughout the United States, one of the most significant challenges to the LTBP Program is selecting a sample of bridges that is large enough and diverse enough to be representative, yet small enough to permit data collection efforts within current resource constraints. To meet this challenge, the LTBP Program designed a multi-tiered sampling approach. While theis approach used is an elegant and iterative one, the following are the primary steps taken during bridge selection:

Step 1: Determine the most common bridge types that predominate now and are likely to do so in the future. Specifically, the program focused on the performance of the following three types of bridges as these represent a majority on the National Bridge Inventory:

  • Steel multi-girder.
  • Prestressed concrete multi-girder.
  • Prestressed/post-tensioned concrete box girder.

 

Step 2: Identify representative clusters of each primary bridge type within various regions of the United States, considering the following factors:

  • Climate/environmental conditions and regional/State maintenance practices. Based upon the analysis of previous and current research, the LTBP program decided to use the climatic zones defined by the Department of Energy (DOE).
  • Concentrated geographic areas to allow for cost-effective data collection efforts.

 

Step 3: Determine the level of detail appropriate for data collection efforts for each bridge within geographic clusters and corridors. It is important to recognize that carrying out the most detailed NDE, structural characterization through field instrumentation, material sampling, visual inspection, etc., for each bridge identified—which number in the thousands—is neither realistic nor cost effective.

Step 4: Perform legacy data mining for all the candidate bridges to determine which bridges will be a cluster or a reference bridge within a geographic clusters or corridors.

  • Candidate bridges summary
    • Number of bridges: Every bridge in a geographic cluster or corridor is a candidate bridge.
    • Data collection: All available information, including plans, inspection reports, maintenance records, etc. (Legacy Data Mining)
    • Purpose: From this population, bridges will be selected for field data collection.
  • The following specific selection criteria were used to filter recommended candidates
    • Untreated deck (for untreated deck clusters).
    • State owned.
    • Bridge types:
      • Steel multi-girder bridges.
      • Prestressed multi-girder bridges.
      • Adjacent prestressed box beam bridges and cast-in-place (CIP) box girder bridges.
    • Not over a railroad.
    • Max span length is between 10 and 50 m.
    • Maximum of four lanes on bridge.
    • Average daily traffic (ADT) is less than 50,000 (removed for corridor bridges).
    • Built after 1960.

 

Step 5: Select the clusters and reference bridges in a geographic cluster on which to conduct the data collection. The supplemental interstate corridor sampling provided an opportunity for the maximum number of States to participate in the program and to leverage efficiencies related to corridor analysis. For the selection of bridges in various corridors, the LTBP Program removed the ADT criteria, performed similar steps for cluster bridge selection, and examined the distribution of climatic environments for corridor bridges.

  • Cluster bridges summary
    • Number of bridges: Approximately 40 to 60 bridges per geographic cluster and approximately 20 to 30 bridges per corridor will be selected as cluster bridges using a methodology known as design of experiments. This experimental design consists of a two-level, full-factorial design with primary variables of age, span length, and average daily truck traffic (ADTT). This methodology ensures a sample with diverse bridge attributes and inputs, which are required to understand how such factors influence performance.
    • Data Collection: NDE, field instrumentation, and visual inspection. The data collection effort will be less frequent or for shorter durations to permit the inclusion of the larger number of bridges.
    • Purpose: These bridges provide "context" to the reference bridges and contribute to the understanding of why certain performances are observed. .
  • Reference bridges summary
    • Number of bridges: Between two and five for each geographic cluster and corridor.
    • Data collection: Very detailed data collection efforts to fully understand their various performances.
    • Purpose: These bridges have the most common characteristics (e.g., median span length, age, ADTT, etc.) and are considered to be the most representative or common bridges.

 

The goal of this general framework is to allow the influences of various bridge inputs and attributes on the performance of bridges to be uncoupled and better understood. For example, by comparing the results of geographic clusters/corridors, the influence of climate and environmental conditions may be identified. Within each geographic cluster/corridor, the influence of more detailed attributes (e.g., deck cover, span length, age, skew, and girder spacing) and inputs (e.g., ADT, ADTT, maintenance activities, and winter deicing operations) can be studied and identified. In addition, this framework will allow for the possibility of bridges being moved within the various categories if their performances warrant.

Clusters and Corridors

The LTBP Program has identified 14 clusters and 10 corridors encompassing over 6,000 bridges. They group together bridges with similar attributes (steel, prestressed concrete, and concrete box multigirder bridges) in varying environmental regions; these groupings form the population of candidate bridges for data collection.

Figure 2 through figure 4 present the location of the 14 clusters with the following distributions:

  • Five steel multi- girder bridge clusters (figure 2).
    • Northeast.
    • Mid-Atlantic.
    • East Central.
    • Gulf Coast.
    • Rocky Mountains.

 

Figure 2. Map. Five steel multi-girder bridge clusters. Clusters of red dots are located in five areas on a Department of Energy climate zone map of the United States. This map shows the Department of Energy's seven climate zones in the United States. The northeast and northwest quadrants as well as about half of the southwest quadrant of the map are predominately light blue, indicating a Cold Climate Zone; there are a few spots of dotted dark blue scattered within the light blue areas, indicating Very Cold Climate Zones. The remainder of the southwest quadrant is dark orange (Mixed-Dry Climate Zone) and dotted light orange (Hot-Dry Climate Zone). The southeastern quadrant of the map is divided by two colors: green (Mixed-Humid Climate Zone) and yellow (Hot-Humid Climate Zones). A small sliver along the west coast is turquoise, indicating a Marine Climate Zone. The western cluster is centered over Colorado and Wyoming, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah. The southernmost cluster is centered over east Texas and Louisiana, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Arkansas and Mississippi. The cluster located in the Midwest of the United States is centered over southern Michigan, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. There is a cluster located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States that is centered over Pennsylvania and Maryland, with bridges located in the bordering areas of Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia. The northeastern cluster is centered over New York, with bridges located in the bordering areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Figure 2. Map. Five steel multi-girder bridge clusters.

  • Six prestressed multi-girder bridge clusters (figure 3).
    • Mid-Atlantic.
    • East Central.
    • Midwest.
    • Gulf Coast.
    • Rocky Mountains.
    • Northwest.

 

Figure 3. Map. Six prestressed multi-girder bridge clusters. Clusters of blue dots are located in six areas on a map of the United States. The northwest cluster is centered over Oregon and Washington. There is a cluster located primarily in Colorado and Utah, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The cluster located in the Midwest of the United States is centered over Wisconsin, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Iowa and Minnesota. The southernmost cluster is centered over the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. A fifth cluster is centered over Kentucky and Tennessee, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Indiana and Ohio. The cluster located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States centers over Pennsylvania and Maryland, with bridges located in the bordering areas of Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Figure 3. Map. Six prestressed multi-girder bridge clusters.

  • Three concrete box girder bridge clusters (figure 4).
    • Mid-Atlantic adjacent box beam cluster.
    • East Central adjacent box beam cluster.
    • Southwest (CIP) post-tensioned box girder cluster.

 

Figure 4. Map. Three concrete box girder bridge clusters. Clusters of white dots are located in three areas of a map of the United States. The southwest cluster is located primarily in southern California, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Arizona and Nevada. There is a cluster located over eastern Kentucky, northeastern Tennessee, and southwestern West Virginia, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. The Mid-Atlantic cluster is centered over Pennsylvania, with a few bridges located in the bordering areas of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Figure 4. Map. Three concrete box girder bridge clusters.

Ten corridors on existing Interstate highway alignments (figure 5) were identified in the analysis, thereby providing complete State coverage and enabling the investigation of bridges on corridors which span multiple climate zones while maintaining heavy truck traffic. The following are the ten corridors the LTBP Program identified:

  • East-West: I-40, I-70, I-80, I-90, I-94.
  • North-South: I-5, I-15, I-29, I-35, I-95.

 

Figure 5. Map. Interstate corridors included in the LTBP Program. Ten black lines are drawn vertically and horizontally across a map of the United States, representing the LTBP Program's selected Interstate corridors. From west to east, the vertical lines, representing north-south Interstates, correspond to I-5 (from Canada to Mexico, parallel to the West Coast), I-15 (from Montana to California), I-29 (from Canada to Missouri), I-35 (from Minnesota to Texas), and I-95 (from Maine to Florida). From north to south, the horizontal lines, representing east-west Interstates, correspond to I-90 (from Washington to Massachusetts), I-94 (from Montana to Michigan), I-80 (from California to New Jersey), I-70 (from Utah to Maryland), and I-40 (from California to North Carolina).

Figure 5. Map. Interstate corridors included in the LTBP Program.

[Back to the top]

 

LTBP Contractor's Progress

Detailed inspections and data collection are being performed by Michael Baker International, Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), Rutgers University, and WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff. This team of LTBP Program contractors is collecting data on 72 bridges throughout the United States, including 24 bridges each inthe Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast clusters and 12 each in the Southwest and Northwest clusters. The following is a summary of the progress as of the summer of 2016:

Mid-Atlantic Cluster Region

Rutgers University and Arora Engineers, Inc. have completed visual inspection and NDE testing on 24 bridges in the Mid-Atlantic cluster—11 prestressed concrete bridges and 13 steel bridges. This includes visual inspection and NDE with the use of the RABIT™ bridge deck assessment tool (figure 6). The bridges are located in the following States:

  • New Jersey: 5 bridges.
  • Pennsylvania: 6 bridges.
  • Delaware: 5 bridges.
  • Maryland: 2 bridges.
  • Virginia: 5 bridges.
  • West Virginia: 1 bridge.

 

Figure 6. Photo. RABIT™   bridge deck assessment tool collecting NDE data in the Mid-Atlantic cluster. The photo shows a picture of the RABIT™   bridge deck assessment tool on the shoulder lane of a bridge deck. Two workers are in the background, and the white van that transports the RABIT™   bridge deck assessment tool is to the right of the tool.

Figure 6. Photo. RABIT™ bridge deck assessment tool collecting NDE data in the Mid-Atlantic cluster.

Rutgers finished data collection in May 2016 and completed data analysis in June 2016. Data from all 24 bridges are available on LTBP Bridge Portal.

Northwest Cluster Region

WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff is currently working on collecting data on 12 bridges in the Northwest Region—2 reference prestressed and 10 cluster prestressed—with ongoing data collection activities on bridges in the following States:

  • Oregon: 6 bridges.
  • Washington: 6 bridges.

 

Southwest Cluster Region

WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff is currently working on data collection (figure 7) activities on 12 bridges in the Southwest Region—2 reference CIP post-tensioned and 10 CIP post-tensioned box—with ongoing data collection activities on bridges in the following States:

  • Arizona: 4 bridges.
  • Nevada: 4 bridges.
  • California: 4 bridges.

 

Figure 7. Photo. Verifying crack width on bridge I 2699 in Nevada. This photo shows a worker kneeling on a bridge measuring the width of a crack.

Figure 7. Photo. Verifying crack width on bridge I 2699 in Nevada.

Data collection efforts for the bridges in Arizona and Nevada have been completed. Data collection for the four bridges in California is underway.

Gulf Coast Cluster Region

Michael Baker International has completed data collection (figure 8) activities on 24 bridges in the Gulf Coast Region and is currently working on data validation and input activities. The contractor examined 2 reference concrete, 10 cluster concrete, 2 reference steel, and 10 cluster steel bridges in the following States:

  • Alabama: 2 bridges.
  • Arkansas: 4 bridges.
  • Florida: 2 bridges.
  • Louisiana: 7 bridges.
  • Mississippi: 7 bridges.
  • Texas: 2 bridges.

 

Figure 8. Photo. Michael Baker International's data collection efforts in the Gulf Coast Region. This photo shows a worker wearing a hard hat and orange safety vest on a bridge deck that has been marked into a grid. He is pushing a rolling chain drag apparatus. Six lengths of chain are attached along the length of a pipe with a wheel on either end. A longer pipe extends upwards and has a handlebar at the top for the worker to hold as the apparatus is being pushed.

Figure 8. Photo. Michael Baker International's data collection efforts in the Gulf Coast Region.

Bridge Data Collection and Legacy Data Mining Study

PSI has collected bridge documentation data for 434 bridges in the 4 clusters in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast cluster regions of the U.S. The contractor has completed the legacy data mining study and is currently working on revising the final reports.

  • 179 steel multi-girder bridges with untreated CIP concrete decks in the Mid-Atlantic cluster region.
  • 104 prestressed concrete multi-girder bridges with untreated CIP concrete decks in the Mid-Atlantic cluster region.
  • 75 prestressed concrete box beam bridges with untreated CIP concrete decks in the Mid-Atlantic cluster region.
  • 76 steel multi-girder bridges with untreated CIP concrete decks in the Northeast region.

 

Future Data Collection

Future plans in FY 2017 include data collection on the remaining 10 clusters, 10 corridors, and all reference bridges. Also, reference bridges will be instrumented for long-term structural health monitoring.

[Back to the top]

 

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

 

Updates

» 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

» Robert Zobel
LTBP Program Coordinator
202-493-3024
E-mail ltbp@dot.gov
  
»Address
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