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34 programs (e.g., safety, new capacity/congestion, and main- ment systems also received high priority from 9 of the tenance). Results of this study were published in NCHRP 10 agencies. Report 545 (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. et al. 2005c). The interviews of 10 DOTs were not detailed case stud- Current Bridge Management And Agency Decision-Making Practices ies, and perspectives among the states varied (as did those of different interviewees within individual states). Neverthe- less, a number of insights were obtained regarding existing Introduction analytic capabilities, needs for new capabilities, receptivity to different types of new analytic tools, and specific features Current information on how bridge management processes desired. BMSs were part of this overall review. The follow- relate to agencies' decision making was gathered through ing major findings relate to the current study (Cambridge structured telephone interviews with chief engineers and Systematics, Inc. et al. 2005c): bridge managers from 15 state DOTs, and through state DOT and provincial MOT responses to a comprehensive Most of the 10 states had pavement and BMSs. Many survey. The survey questionnaire is reproduced in Appen- of these agencies used these systems (albeit to varying dix A. The two interview guides that were used are included degrees) to support project prioritization and analyses in Appendix B. The agencies that participated in the survey of the relationship between investment levels and sys- and interviews are listed in Appendix C. tem performance within individual program catego- ries; for example, bridges or pavements. This section describes the bridge component of cur- Only one agency reported looking at performance rent planning, programming, resource allocation, and sup- trade-offs for different budget allocations across multi- porting processes as described by agency personnel in the ple program categories: Michigan DOT used a spread- interviews. Five agencies have been profiled to describe the sheet analysis for this purpose. several management steps involved in bridge investment Many of the 10 agencies reported use of LCC analyses, analysis and resource allocation, and to contrast differences but most of these examples related to pavements or to in practices among agencies. These profiles are presented in major projects above a certain estimated cost that varied two tables. Table 7 describes processes for two non-Pontis from $1 million to $20 million. Only South Carolina DOT states, each of which employs its own, agency-specific BMS. explicitly mentioned using LCC for bridges. In terms of Table 8 describes equivalent processes for three Pontis states. potential new tools, a number of agencies gave high pri- The specific business processes documented in these tables ority to LCC for bridges or for "important assets." include the following: The reported level of interest in new analytic tools gen- erated varying responses among agencies, but appeared General introduction to reflect an awareness of the capabilities of existing Condition and performance measures and targets, BMS. For example, queries about potential new tools which are used to track and monitor system perfor- to relate investment levels to predicted performance, or mance, set management guidelines and decision crite- to support project prioritization, generally gave higher ria for bridge work, and (potentially) to express policy priority to assets and programs other than bridges. goals and objectives These responses were consistent with the concept that Procedures to identify funding levels available for such capabilities were available in current BMSs. bridge work The level of interest in new tools for trade-off analyses Procedures to determine bridge investment needs across program categories was uniformly high (with Methods of resource allocation and prioritization, con- the exception of one DOT that already had a multi- sidering (as applicable) allocations between the bridge program analysis tool). The interest in a new tool to program and other programs, allocations to districts predict the impacts of a set of projects on system condi- (or regions or divisions), and prioritization of projects tion, safety, mobility, economic growth, and so on was Use of economic methods to support the previously generally high, but varied somewhat with respect to described processes bridges: One state ranked bridges the highest priority, Formal programs to establish and monitor organiza- whereas another gave bridges the highest priority only tional accountability for bridge program management, if the tool included "more than roads and bridges." program accomplishment, and system performance, A proposed new tool to monitor actual project costs and to communicate information about bridge pro- and effectiveness to provide feedback into manage- grams to stakeholders and the public.

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Table 7 BRIDGE DECISION PROCESSES IN TWO NON-PONTIS STATES Item or Process State A State B State Bridge Engineer; Head of the Agency's Division of Transportation Interview With Assistant State Maintenance Engineer--Bridges Investment Management (DTIM, responsible for planning, programming, and multimodal investment decisions) The agency-specific BMS applies to all state and local bridges (i.e., bridges with nonfederal, nonprivate owners). The system is used by central office The Central Office Transportation Investment Management Division uses and divisions (districts) to process, manage, and report bridge condition and an agency-specific management system to help allocate resources among performance data. The BMS does not have predictive models. pavement, bridge, and safety programs. Based on these allocations, regional bridge maintenance engineers decide bridge projects and treat- Bridge information encompasses and goes beyond NBI data to include (a) a ments, applying their knowledge of their bridge condition and profes- customized Deficiency Point calculation and (b) a customized load rating sional judgment. They may use custom management tools. Regions han- calculation to reflect particular classes of heavy vehicles (above AASHTO dle most bridge management functions; the Central Office manages only HS-20) that are legal in the state. Data are based on district NBI inspections major bridge projects and bridges on the statewide "backbone" or trunk- that also report state-specific data items. line system (network of multilane, high-volume freeways). General Bridge decisions are centralized for rehabilitation and replacement, and The bridge management process is not formally documented, but is verti- decentralized for preservation and repair. In addition to input from the bridge cally integrated from the executive level to the regional offices. Decisions office, the DOT's office engineer plays a key role in reviewing the proposed on bridge rehabilitation and replacement projects are reached collabora- bridge program and making recommendations to the chief engineer. There is tively between the chief bridge maintenance engineer and regional direc- also a Bridge Replacement Prioritization Committee comprising agency tors. Decisions on preservation and maintenance are made primarily by managers from several offices plus a nonvoting FHWA Division Office rep- regional bridge maintenance engineers. resentative to advise upper management on bridge investment decisions. Bridge decisions consider NBI data and a Rate Score that is based on NBI Bridge decisions are based primarily on Deficiency Points. The process is structural and functional information, but computed differently from the vertically integrated, maintaining communication up and down DOT organi- Sufficiency Rating. zational levels. NBI measures of SD, FO, and SR are used, together with the agency's Defi- ciency Point calculation, for bridge program management. A separate, state- specific, weighted average index of NBI condition ratings is used exclusively for GASB 34 reporting. SD and FO are monitored and considered by regions in their bridge work recommendations. There are no documented, quantitative bridge program The Deficiency Points measure is based on bridge physical condition, allowable targets or target years. There is a general understanding, though, that the load, deck width, vertical clearance, and special deductions. Different threshold percentage of SD and FO bridges should be declining. Condition and Performance levels of deficiency apply to bridges based on ownership and traffic use. Measures and Targets In addition to NBI ratings, the agency uses a Rate Score, which is an While there are no quantitative bridge program targets or target years, an index based on NBI data but computed using weights that are different understood program objective is to work toward eliminating posted bridges. from those applied for SR. The Rate Score is a function of the structural Percent deficient bridges are also tracked. Implicit targets are also built into items in the SR plus ADT, functional class, and inventory rating. the Deficiency Point methodology (e.g., a Special Deficiency assignment of 30 points for posted bridges, and the fact that the bridge load Deficiency Points depend on the degree of load restriction). Rehabilitation and replacement needs are very large and are met through federal There is a large appropriation for bridge rehabilitation, replacement, and HBP funding plus state funding at a level recommended by the agency's Finance preservation as compared with new or expanded capacity. The bridge Advisory Committee, with final decisions by the director and chief engineer. program is well funded; state funding is considerably higher than is Funding Level needed for a federal match. State funding to meet bridge needs is taken Repair funds (state money) are allocated to divisions based on relative bridge off the top; remaining funds are then applied to roadway, safety, minor inventory. 35 capacity, and other needs.

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Table 7 (Continued) BRIDGE DECISION PROCESSES IN TWO NON-PONTIS STATES 36 Item or Process State A State B For bridge rehabilitation and replacement: Replacement and rehabilitation needs are very large (see Funding Level above) and are identified based on Deficiency Point ratings. Bridges with high deficiency ratings are evaluated by the office engineer, who adjusts the list to account for bridges already Needs are estimated within a 10-year horizon by applying agency-specific mod- programmed, fiscal year targets for work performance, posted bridges, and els of deterioration in Rate Score. This projected deterioration is then addressed timber bridges (which the agency is trying to eliminate). in the analysis by a standard set of sequential activities (i.e., defined treatments Bridge Needs that are scheduled at determined times during the bridge's service life) and For bridge repair: The Central Office proposes candidates; division directors comment. Final recommendations are made by the office engineer, state associated unit costs to compute total estimated bridge needs. bridge engineer, and bridge maintenance engineer; these recommendations These deterioration and cost models vary with bridge configuration. are forwarded to the Front Office for approval. Future needs are anticipated in terms of the "bulge" in bridges built during the interstate era that will soon be approaching the end of their service lives. The DOT's Transportation Investment Management Division handles resource A Bridge Replacement Prioritization Committee assists the Front Office in allocation across programs and regions with the help of its management system. high-level decisions on transportation program funding. The role of this The legislature does not interfere in these decisions. committee is still evolving. Committee membership comprises the chief engineer, assistant chief engineer for operations, state bridge engineer, assis- While the Central Office recommends a regional allocation, it consults with the tant state maintenance engineerbridges, the office engineer, planning and regions to identify any special requests requiring adjustments in the allocations. multimodal systems, and a structural engineer from the FHWA Division The regions manage their respective road networks and select projects to be Office (nonvoting). The office engineer addresses financial aspects of the included in the STIP. The Central Office does not get involved much in these discussions. decisions with one exception--the Central Office manages bridge projects on Resource Allocation and the "backbone" or trunk-line highway network, a statewide network of high- Prioritization Statewide competition among bridge projects for rehabilitation or replace- volume freeways of statewide importance--and major bridge projects. ment is decided based on Deficiency Points. Ties are broken by consultations between the Bridge Office and the agency office engineer. For bridge repairs The database with bridge condition data is provided to regions, which exercise and maintenance, allocations to divisions are based on the respective center- discretion within limits in determining projects, programs, and costs. Prioritiza- line lengths of bridges as maintained in the MMS inventory. tion methods may vary by region and are not documented. Regional personnel apply their knowledge, judgment, and possibly their own customized tools in Each division has a bridge maintenance or operations engineer who tracks prioritizing and selecting projects. bridge condition and needs and is able to determine appropriate priorities and treatments. The FHWA Division Office has recommended that the department adopt more uniform, better documented decision processes. Economic methods are not yet generally used, but the agency's bridge man- agement system will be enhanced to include such procedures. Economic fac- Benefit-cost analysis is used sparingly (e.g., to evaluate rehabilitation versus tors are incorporated in agency standard practice to some degree. For exam- replacement), but is not in general use. In its process improvement recommen- Economic Methods ple, precast concrete bridge designs that are in conventional use have dations, the FHWA Division Office has also recommend use of economic anal- demonstrated cost and performance advantages. However, methods like life- ysis methods. cycle cost analysis are not used formally. While the agency tracks the percentage of bridges that are deficient, there are no formal performance targets. While there is no formal public communication program on bridges, there is a A performance monitoring and accountability program has been discussed, but Accountability and Legislative Infrastructure Committee comprising representatives of the agency none has been developed to date. Public Communication and industry to publicize infrastructure needs. For example, it may produce Normally there is no formal communication on the bridge program. Occasion- color-coded maps of the planned bridge program and permits and postings. ally bridge information is provided to the public (e.g., following an incident). This information is important given the growth in heavy trucks spurred by recent construction of automobile manufacturing plants in the state. Note: ADT = average daily traffic; BMS = bridge management system; FO = functionally obsolete; GASB 34 = Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 34; HBP = High- way Bridge Program; MMS = maintenance management system; NBI = National Bridge Inventory; SD = structurally deficient; SR = sufficiency rating; STIP = Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

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Table 8 BRIDGE DECISION PROCESSES IN THREE PONTIS STATES Item or Process State C State D State E Interview With State Bridge Engineer State Bridge Maintenance Engineer Bridge Management System Coordinator Pontis contains all bridge data for state and local Pontis helped the bridge maintenance unit become The Central Office conducts bridge management bridges. Database includes standard Pontis items much more involved in bridge program decision using Pontis, supplemented by customized ana- plus customized data. making, also involving the districts more in bridge lytic functions that operate on data in the Pontis Bridge management functions are centralized; dis- replacement decisions. database. tricts are involved in data collection on the state- Pontis is applied at the Central Office. Districts GENERAL Districts perform element-level inspections owned network. Central Office manages inspection inspect bridges using dual inspections (element level only. of local bridges. and NBI). Bridge management is part of the state's overall District inspections are at the element level. A joint approach, bottom-up and top-down, is used in asset management, and is included with other Agency uses Pontis's NBI Translator program to bridge management and program development. See programs that are considered within a corridor. produce NBI measures. text for details. Agency computes NBI ratings via the NBI Transla- tor program within Pontis; it uses the Pontis Health Index occasionally. Bridges eligible for federal HBP funding are tracked via the Select List, based Dual inspections are conducted to obtain element- on SR. level and NBI data. The Pontis NBI Translator pro- gram is used to check district NBI data, with gener- NBI ratings for SD and FO are used in a trend The Bridge Office is developing its own Bridge ally good agreement. analysis for the bridge capacity program only Index that will provide more granular descriptions (new bridges, expanded capacity, bridge of bridge condition and address problems with SR Tracking of condition and performance is mainly by considering trends in basic measures, including SD replacement based on strength considerations), and the Select List. See text for details. not bridge preservation. Condition and and FO. FHWA thresholds for NHS highways (spec- Performance Measures Current practice: Bridges in "acceptable" condi- ifying allowable percentages of SD and FO) are also For preservation (preventive maintenance), only and Targets tion are those that are NOT on the Select List. Tar- considered. This agency is looking to eliminate SD decks, joints, and bearings are considered. Deci- gets: 83 percent NHS, 80 percent non-NHS bridges bridges in 10 years, and replace FO bridges in 1020 sions are informed by a modified health index. in acceptable condition (developed for GASB). years. The bridge unit provides input to Commission There are separate priority indexes for specific Future practice: Targets will be expressed in reports and submits bridge needs to executive man- details on steel bridges and for off-system terms of Bridge Index values of Good, Fair, Poor, agement, the commission, and the governor. bridges, for which posting is an issue. etc.; meeting these target values will be reflected in Upper management generally accepts the recommen- projects included in the STIP, and will also be used dations of the bridge maintenance office. in trade-off analyses with other programs. Top management supports these efforts and the move toward trade-off analysis. Planning provides revenue projections by high- Construction program is relatively small ($200 mil- way system. There is strong federal bridge fund- Federal HBP money is dedicated to bridges and con- lion annually, total for all projects); bridges and other ing, and state funding is used on road corridor Funding Level stitutes most of the agency's bridge funding (>$100 structures are about 10 percent of total. State dollars preservation projects. Bridge Management runs million). State funding ($10 million) is competitive. ($15$25 million annually) go to bridge repairs. scenarios in Pontis to obtain performance trends for different budget levels. 37

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38 Table 8 (Continued) BRIDGE DECISION PROCESSES IN THREE PONTIS STATES Item or Process State C State D State E A Needs Analysis across all major program catego- ries is conducted as part of STIP development. The bridge maintenance office has conducted about Current practice: Needs identification is gener- eight needs studies with Pontis assistance since the ally by road segment, driven by deficient pavement 1990s, the most recent in 2004. The bridge mainte- Based on Pontis scenario projections, trends are condition. Bridge unit identifies bridges on the nance office also keeps track of progress in meeting developed for numbers of state-owned bridges Select List, the top 10 needs in deck condition, and needs (e.g., through deck replacement) and updates that are SD or FO (for capacity projects), for use the top 10 needs in expansion devices, and pro- trend lines monthly. by Planning in its trade-off analyses. vides this information to key players. Districts Before Pontis implementation, bridge investment deci- For preventive maintenance, the deck health make decisions on meeting bridge needs. sions were not made systematically. There was no for- index is the primary measure that is tracked. Future practice: Needs will be based on Bridge mal process, and decisions were based on ad hoc con- Preservation work is developed on a corridor Index values; focus will be more bridge-oriented siderations such as projects that were "easy to do." basis to gain economies of scale. Bridge Needs (by individual structure) rather than by road seg- The policy now is that bridge managers need to Bridge posting is an issue primarily for local ment. An integrated management system is pro- understand the operations aspects of their decisions (off-system) bridges. The agency informs local posed for development, which will allow trade-offs (i.e., where are bridge needs, what are the causes of governments when bridge posting is needed. across different program needs. Again, upper man- these needs, and how can the road system operation Posting status is also part of the prioritization for agement supports these efforts. benefit from bridge investment?). This requires federal aid to counties. Other factors that are Current metrics show the number of deficient understanding how the bridge relates to its surround- considered include bridge age, whether a bridge bridges (based on the Select List) to be declining. ing locations in the road network. This implies a is of timber construction, traffic (ADT), bridge This trend may change in the future with (a) intro- management perspective of how the route or corridor length (counties do not have the expertise to duction of the Bridge Index, which is more granu- is used when considering bridge investments. design bridges longer than a certain length), and lar and may flag additional bridges as deficient; and The element-level data drive the program analyses internal county preferences. (b) aging of bridges built a half-century ago, now and recommendations in Pontis. Scenarios are run for approaching design or economic service lives. Tar- unlimited and constrained budget cases. gets may need to be revised in the future. Allocations of state funds are decided in a meeting Allocations between bridge and other programs among program/office managers. One potential area are analyzed by the trade-off process conducted of improvement is for other functional areas to esti- by Planning. The agency has experimented with Allocations between bridge and other programs are mate needs in their programs on an equivalent long- the AASHTOWare product AssetManager NT made at the Needs Analysis meeting. Districts term basis (20 years), as is done for bridges. Another to conduct trade-off analyses. comment on the timing of bridge projects in the is to consider the type and criticality of needs more Regarding allocations among districts: Bridge STIP in relation to overall needs and funding. explicitly rather than allocating by, for example, for- projects on the NHS are evaluated statewide. The Bridge projects (except an occasional bridge mulas or prorated percentages. first cut at prioritization is obtained using Pontis replacement project) are typically not a major topic in the Needs Analysis meeting, and the state does District allocations of federal bridge funds in the past and the supplementary, customized calculations not have many major bridge projects. In the future, were based upon a roughly uniform distribution of that operate on data in the Pontis database. A sec- Resource Allocation and trade-off analyses will consider the impacts of dif- projects (e.g., five or more bridges in each district ond pass considers the political dimension in dis- Prioritization ferent funding levels and allocations among each program year). The trend now is to think more trict allocations. Allocations for secondary system programs. in terms of statewide needs; any one district may and off-system bridge projects are consistent with therefore see its number of federally funded projects the state's redistricting law, which is updated The $200 million in construction funding is vary from year to year. The Central Office allocates every legislative session (2-year intervals), and divided equally among five districts, $40 million federal funding. State bridge funds are prorated to are prorated by bridge deck area. per district. However, bridge funding may not be districts based on their relative shares of bridge lane Project prioritization maintains conformance to proportional. miles. Pontis data are used for this allocation the district allocations required by state code, The districts prioritize bridge projects. formula. consistency between functional class and color Project prioritization is done statewide and discussed of money, and Pontis database computations of with the districts. deck health index.

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Table 8 (Continued) BRIDGE DECISION PROCESSES IN THREE PONTIS STATES Item or Process State C State D State E The state applies the benefit-cost analysis in Formal economic analyses are not really used now Pontis. The bridge management office has tried (other than in the Pontis algorithm). The future The state applies the benefit-cost analysis and user Economic Methods life-cycle cost analysis, but estimates of road integrated management system will, however, have cost algorithms in Pontis. user costs for work-related delays have a benefit-cost analysis. problems. The GASB 34 targets above provide some degree of accountability, but no other accountable targets There is a performance measurement program exist for bridges at present. The implementation of This agency issues an Accountability Report annu- related to budgeting. Scenario analyses are used the Bridge Index will change this and provide ally. It includes updates on the bridge deck area that to estimate performance trends for different bud- increased accountability. is rated SD. get levels, to identify a recommended budget Accountability and Public Communication of bridge information to the public The Bridge Maintenance Office formerly issued an and performance target. Performance is Communication is provided through the state's Transportation Fact annual State of Bridge Infrastructure Report to DOT expressed primarily in terms of the deck health Book (annually in November), which summarizes management and the Transportation Commission. index. state and local bridge conditions and numbers of The recent collapse of the I-35W bridge has renewed Information on bridge status and investment deficient bridges by functional class. Additional interest in reviving this report. programs and projects is communicated to the information on the STIP is on the bridge unit's public through the department's bridge website. webpage. Note: ADT = average daily traffic; BMS = bridge management system; FO = functionally obsolete; GASB 34 = Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 34; HBP = High- way Bridge Program; MMS = maintenance management system; NBI = National Bridge Inventory; NHS = National Highway System; SD = structurally deficient; SR = sufficiency rating; STIP = Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. 39

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40 The tabular organization of bridge management pro- middle management, and executive levels, and that are con- cesses helps in two ways. First, describing these processes sistent with the broader financial, policy, and programming by agency illustrates important linkages among process environment in which the agency operates. Offices involved steps. For example, particular condition and performance in bridge management are able to produce the information measures may be used to guide resource allocation and upper management needs. Executives and managers appear prioritization, as well as to communicate agency account- to be satisfied with this input to their decision making. These ability. As another example, understanding how an agency agencies have created various mechanisms to advise upper estimates bridge needs and accounts for funding availabil- management in their decisions and to resolve differences ity may help in understanding its methods and criteria for among organizational units in their respective assessments resource allocation and prioritization. Second, because they of needs and priorities. These will be described further later, are described in parallel for each agency, the processes of with the understanding that some of these organizational one agency can be compared with the others to observe simi- roles and business processes are still evolving. Although larities and differences. all of these DOTs incorporate professional judgment as an element of their bridge investment and resource allocation Supplementary information on the resource allocation decision making, agency practices vary in who exercises this and performance accountability business processes was judgment, as well as how, when, and with what effect. obtained from the interviews with the 10 additional agencies (15 agencies interviewed in total). These additional exam- Although bridge management is well integrated into ples round out the various practices in bridge management agency decision making among the DOTs represented in used by state DOTs. Collectively, these descriptions estab- Tables 7 and 8, this is not to imply that policies and pro- lish a picture of how agencies today relate their bridge man- cedures are perfect. Aspects of the agencies' management agement capabilities and information to their procedures for system capabilities, performance measures, and executive analyzing program investments and resource allocations. advisory committee roles that were described in the inter- These results will be amplified by later discussions of the views are still evolving. In some cases, the objectives for survey responses. The survey data will provide a broader further improvement of these internal processes have been agency coverage of several relevant topics; for example, the spurred by suggestions from the respective FHWA Division use of BMSs, organizational responsibility for various pro- Office; for example, the desirability of more standardized, cesses in bridge management and resource allocation, and documented project selection procedures, and encourage- applications of bridge management specifically to planning ment in the greater use of economic methods. These agen- and budgeting. cies are working continually to influence the external factors that affect their bridge program management as well as their When current practices are compared with the historical broader planning and programming processes--for example, findings that were discussed in the preceding section, one to promote more stable and predictable short- and long-term can identify advances that have taken place in bridge man- funding streams, and to match available funding to bridge agement and its application to agency decisions. This com- and other program needs. These pragmatic steps, includ- parison can crystallize long-standing issues that continue ing defining alternative bridge decision criteria to supple- to affect bridge program management, analyses of bridge ment the SR, using various internal mechanisms to decide investment needs versus funding availability, resource allo- bridge funding allocations, and transferring funds among cation within and among programs, and bridge project pri- programs, are described in later sections of this chapter as oritization. Trends in BMS implementation can likewise be well as in chapter four. revealed, indicating what advances agencies have made, or what impediments they continue to face, in applying their Underlying the current practices described in the remain- management system, data collection, and database process- ing sections of this chapter are each agencies' applications ing capabilities to actual business decisions. Finally, an his- of different BMSs and approaches. These differences can be torical perspective provides a framework for understanding modest or substantial. The two non-Pontis states in Table 7 how current practice reflects principles of good asset man- use agency-specific BMSs: One consists of a database with agement that have emerged in the U.S. transportation sector management and reporting tools that build on those used for in the last 10 years. NBI data; the other is an overarching system encompassing bridges, pavements, and safety projects that assists in plan- General ning, capital programming, and resource allocation. Both systems use customized data and performance measures. The five DOTs represented in Tables 7 and 8 were selected The three Pontis states likewise differ in how their systems by the Topic 37-07 Panel as having exemplary bridge man- are customized and applied, whether with additional, state- agement practices that extended into planning, program- specific elements, unique analytic tools to compute custom ming, and resource allocation. The interviews described performance measures, or the degree to which Pontis' eco- business processes that are well integrated among technical, nomic modeling is employed.

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41 The influence of BMSs can extend beyond their analytic themes that cut across the various practices among agencies-- results. State D reported that its implementation of Pontis for example, the widespread use of NBI deficiency ratings. coincided with a strengthening of its bridge maintenance These themes are countered by a desire in many agencies to office's role in formulating the state's bridge investment pro- overcome the limitations of these ratings; the development of gram. The bridge maintenance office of this state had little customized measures of bridge condition and performance; the influence on bridge programs before the late 1990s. In 1993, preference of many agencies to track progress toward objec- however, the state began preparing to use Pontis by begin- tives and targets somewhat informally, especially by looking ning collection of element-level data and developing cost at general trends rather than firm thresholds and schedules of data and element deterioration estimates. The bridge mainte- accomplishment; and, where explicit policy objectives and nance office began formulating agency bridge programming performance targets are not available for strategic guidance, policy across the board, including replacement or rehabilita- the use of other mechanisms to guide resource allocation. tion and preservation (maintenance and repair). The state Moreover, the field is in flux: a number of agencies that were began using Pontis fully in 1998. interviewed in this study described new, improved measures of system condition and performance that were under devel- The experience of State D is an example of how a opment and could be used to express better their program strengthened bridge management approach can result from objectives and performance targets. These new quantities, an informed bridge program initiative coupled with the they believed, would help them to understand better the condi- effective use of BMS information. State D's approach is now tion of their bridge inventory, the implied bridge investment one that, as shown by the framework of Figure 1, includes needs, and the potential benefits of funding these bridge needs. both top-down and bottom-up aspects. For bridge replace- A caveat noted by even those states that had well-developed ment and rehabilitation projects, a joint program develop- approaches to policy guidance and performance measure- ment approach between central office and districts is used. ment, however, was that meeting transportation objectives and The bridge maintenance office asks the districts for their top performance targets in a consistent manner required a stable, 20 to 25 project candidates, while it concurrently runs Pontis sustained, long-term trend in their program funding. to obtain corresponding BMS recommendations. The two lists usually show more than 80% agreement, and they are Five DOTs Represented in Tables 7 and 8 compared and discussed in a meeting between the bridge maintenance office and district representatives. The final list The measures used to define bridge program goals and tar- of recommended bridge replacement projects is prepared by gets and to monitor system condition and performance over the bridge maintenance engineer for one final district review, time are shown in the second row of Tables 7 and 8. and is then submitted as a 5-year plan. Each year the bridge maintenance office (1) adjusts project priorities if needed, (2) All five states monitor NBI ratings: SD, FO, and SR. conducts statewide audits to ensure that work to date con- SD is often considered in terms of a desired downward forms with the recommended program, and (3) checks with trend rather than as a fixed numerical target. districts to ensure that they are still in agreement with the Four of the five states have also defined custom mea- program. To date this process has worked well. sures. Although these new measures may draw on NBI data, they may differ from NBI database computations Preservation work--for example, for bridge painting and in terms of the particular data items that are included, deck replacement--is handled by the bridge maintenance the numerical rating scale that is used, and the weights office with the help of Pontis recommendations, subject to assigned to respective items. funding constraints. Pontis is used to review local bridge pro- Agencies have defined these custom measures to posals; for example, if a locality wishes to widen a bridge, the serve several purposes that they believe are not being bridge maintenance office checks to see whether a replace- met by the current NBI or default BMS approaches: ment would be preferred. Districts generally do not adjust to provide more detailed or granular information on these decisions unless there is a major change in the field. bridge condition and performance, to supplement the SR as a decision criterion, to give a more com- This is but one example; others are described in Tables prehensive and transparent picture of the impacts of 7 and 8. Comments on the remaining items in these tables bridge investments, to focus on particular state issues follow, along with further information gained from the 10 and priorities, and to serve as dependent variables in additional agencies that were interviewed. agency-developed predictive models (i.e., bridge dete- rioration models) that are used, for example, in needs Condition and Performance Data and Guidance estimates. State A, which employs a Deficiency Point approach, The policy objectives and performance targets that agencies notes that bridge program objectives are essentially use to guide bridge program development include several types "built into" this process in terms of how Deficiency of measures that are described here, but underlying them are Points and bridge load definitions are defined (certain

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42 legal truck loads in this state differ from AASHTO results from work performance, and (3) the relationship of standard loads). A Special Conditions deficiency cat- this improvement to cost. The DOT intends to define three egory allows managers to reflect implicit objectives by to five intervals of bridge criticality in terms of the weighted essentially raising the priority of a bridge with particu- Bridge Index computation on the 0 to 4 scale--for example, lar problems. Index values less than 1.75 might be judged Critical, and val- None of the five agencies now employs strict numeri- ues greater than 3.5 might be judged Good, but these are cal targets for bridge condition and performance, or for still subject to further development and sensitivity analyses. the allowable time to meet condition and performance The DOT is analyzing what level of investment is needed to targets. Rather, the agencies monitor general trends address bridges at given Index values, and what improve- in key indicators, particularly NBI ratings such as SD ment in Index value results from a certain level of invest- and, where relevant, the number of posted bridges. ment. The Bridge Index is expected to provide more accurate Declining trends in deficiency measures are generally and helpful indications of bridge condition and performance, understood agencywide to be desirable goals of the as well as a more specific measure by which to communicate bridge program. objectives and performance targets. Two of the five states explicitly mentioned program goals defined exclusively for use in Governmental The NBI data that contribute to the Index are derived from Accounting Standards Board (GASB) 34 reporting. element-level inspections. NBI ratings for bridge structure elements are computed from the element-level data by the Additional information is provided here as indicated for NBI Translator program, which is developed and maintained two of the agencies in Table 8. by the FHWA and incorporated within Pontis. State C State D State C is developing a new Bridge Index for use with Pontis NBI ratings in this state's view were established for safety that will provide a more granular description of its bridge and are not really management tools. In the opinion of this condition and performance than the NBI rating approach agency's state bridge maintenance engineer, SR should not now used, which involves the Select List (bridges eligible be used to prioritize projects because it does not encompass for federal HBP funding for rehabilitation or replacement) all of the factors needed to make wise bridge program deci- based on SR criteria (SR between 80 and 50 for rehabilita- sions. For example, a bridge may have an SR value somewhat tion, less than 50 for reconstruction). State C identifies two above 50 (e.g., 54 to 56), but replacement may be the preferred problems with SR and the Select List: (1) a bridge may be long-term option. This agency has discussed this point with structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, but not meet the FHWA Division Office and has obtained its understand- the criteria for the Select List (this case would typically rep- ing of their position. This agency would prefer that a level of resent a bridge with deficient deck condition, but no other service-type measure be used instead of the SR. deficiencies); and (2) changes in the Select List do not fully reflect improvements owing to all bridge investments (i.e., 10 Additional Agencies That Were Interviewed the impacts of investments on non-federal aid bridges are not picked up). Some states reported only that their current strategic docu- ments (e.g., mission statement, departmental strategic man- The proposed Bridge Index is founded on a number of agement guide, or long-range state transportation plan) were NBI items: deck, superstructure, and substructure condi- the source of transportation system goals and objectives, with tion; channel and waterway adequacy; inventory load rating; no further elaboration. Several DOTs that did not now have bridge railing and approach-guardrail-to-railing transition; a performance measurement program for their transporta- approach guardrail and guardrail ends (comparison to state tion system reported that they are planning or now undertak- standards); bridge width; vertical clearance over a road; ing efforts to develop and apply such measures and targets. vertical underclearance; lateral underclearance; and func- Other agencies already have fairly detailed goal-setting and tional class. Measures of traffic (e.g., average annual daily review procedures and tools. For example, one DOT issues traffic) are excluded from the Bridge Index because they are an extensive quarterly report on system performance and the not strict measures of bridge condition. They are accounted status of its programs. A biennial update on progress toward for, rather, in the programming process and should manifest attaining five legislatively set, overarching goals is attached themselves in bridge deterioration trends. The weights used to this DOT report. The secretary of another DOT reports in the Bridge Index computation are different from those annually to its transportation commission with a report used in the NBI ratings, and they are still being tested and card on system performance that is transmitted to the gov- adjusted for reasonableness with respect to how they yield ernor and legislature. The agency's executive management (1) the relative Index values of bridges in different condi- team reviews performance measures with the commission tions, (2) the improvement in the Bridge Index value that in detail, using dashboards. Although agency staff makes

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43 recommendations on targets based on departmental data, replacement that go to contract, and the percentage of analyses, and professional judgment, the commission makes weight-restricted bridges. The target in this state is that no the final decision on updated targets. A couple of states more than 1% of bridges should have weight restrictions. pointed out that their current approaches are corridor based. There are separate safety and weight-restricted goals con- The two apparently separate and distinct motivations are cerning structurally deficient and functionally obsolete as follows: (1) to base programming decisions primarily on bridges. The agency's bridge management unit develops roadway pavement condition and to identify needed bridge these measures and targets as part of the update of the state work (apart from critical situations) primarily on corridors transportation plan. slated for pavement investment; and (2) to gain economies of scale in all bridge work identified within the corridor. Bridge Funding Availability and Needs Estimation managers within an agency driven by the first motivation are hoping that a more refined Bridge Index will shift the focus Five DOTs Represented in Tables 7 and 8 more toward individual bridge conditions and performance, irrespective of overall corridor condition. Placing greater The five agencies included in Tables 7 and 8 all acknowledge importance on bridge conditions specifically is particularly the important role of federal HBP funding to meet bridge important in maritime regions. The harsh environmental replacement and rehabilitation needs, and the use of state conditions in these locations expose bridges to corrosion funding to meet preservation needs--bridge repairs and cor- that causes bridge elements to deteriorate faster than other rective and preventive maintenance--as well as to provide components of the highway corridor. the required federal match. These agencies differ, however, in the magnitude of their federal HBP apportionments, the Several agencies do not have explicit measures of objec- ratio of their bridge replacement and rehabilitation needs to tives and targets, relying instead on general, often qualita- preservation needs, and the relative split between federal ver- tive, goals in mission statements and strategic plans. For sus state dollars in their bridge programs. These differences example, one state reports that its top priority is preservation reflect the varying physical and transportation environments and maintenance; this goal is embodied in the 25-year vision among states (degree of urbanization, traffic volumes and in its long-range plan, which guides the 10-year investment compositions, terrain, climate, and so on) as well as the plan, 3-year program, and 1-year work program. Another composition, age, and condition of their respective bridge DOT notes that an overriding objective is to use all available inventories. Transfer of HBP funds to other programs has federal aid. Funding set-asides are used to allocate resources not been an issue among these five agencies in recent years, to bridges, particularly for state bridge needs not covered by and therefore was not discussed in the interviews. Bridge federal funding and for local bridges. Another agency relies funding transfers are now an issue nationally, however, and on its senior management team to relate revenue projections are covered further in chapter four. to recommendations from central office and district man- agers, supported by management system outputs, to devise Approaches to needs estimates also vary. Agencies with goals and objectives for the long-range plan. access to the analytic features in Pontis are more likely to consider budget scenarios and to conduct trade-offs of dif- Some agencies that do not have explicit statements of ferent budget levels versus expected system condition and goals, objectives, and performance targets contend that performance. Methods to estimate bridge needs are evolving their budget, program structure, or funding formulas have in some agencies concurrently with more sophisticated use implicit goals and objectives. A bridge manager in another of their BMS and the introduction of custom performance agency believes that condition and performance objectives measures that better reflect individual state perceptions of and targets represent idealized, ambitious vision statements. needed work. In one case, an agency is departing from past Because future improvement in bridge condition is not now practice by focusing more on bridge needs specifically, rather realistic in light of current funding, the real objective (and a than considering them as part of overall conditions within the challenging one at that) is to maintain the status quo. roadway segment to which the bridge belongs. In a second case, the agency is encouraging its managers to understand A DOT using the Pontis BMS employs a computer- bridge investment needs in an operational context. In other based dashboard with performance measures and targets for cases, agencies are looking to improved performance mea- bridges. The Pontis Health Index provides a network-level sures to provide a more explicit way of expressing needs and view of bridge condition. This agency looks at bridge condi- the consequences of different investment levels. By contrast, tion relative to available dollars for different types of needs. those agencies that do not analyze budget scenarios estimate The legislature agrees with and supports this approach. needs based strictly on a single forecast of the deterioration in bridge condition and performance. Another DOT uses program-output performance mea- sures such as the number of bridges requiring rehabilita- Two agencies mentioned that projected needs likely tion that go to contract, the number of bridges requiring will increase in the future owing to the "bulge" in bridge

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44 eplacement and rehabilitation work expected for bridges r as decks. One state DOT shares this information with the built during system expansion in the mid-twentieth century. legislature in articulating investment needs. The CEO and top decision makers in another state DOT annually review 10 Additional Agencies That Were Interviewed bridge recommendations based on inspections and other data. Representatives of each funding area make presenta- Several agencies reported that maximizing federal aid is an tions, as do districts. Top management informs the districts important objective, although secondary to more fundamen- of the proposed funding policy. The districts examine the tal bridge-related goals and objectives. One DOT begins with funding policy and request changes or accept the proposal. the amount of federal bridge program funds for replacement The current bridge performance level, information on scour and rehabilitation. This is matched at the appropriate per- problems, and bridge needs in coastal areas are part of the centage by projected state dollars, which this agency fore- funding analysis. casts quite accurately. Bridge program managers and upper management compare the sum of these resources with the Bridge program managers and top decision makers in needs. Supplemental funds sometimes come from general this state also look at trade-offs. The criteria for making revenues or other occasional sources, but an effort is made trade-offs in order of importance is as follows: data, analy- not to distort the overall program. Another DOT reported that sis, engineering judgment, and political considerations. Top a significant change from historical funding patterns could management tries to ensure that political considerations do invalidate the strategic plan. The agency might then need to not trump other factors. This process is meeting top manage- revise its current highway program, implicitly changing its ment's needs for good information they can use to establish goals, objectives, and priorities. funding levels and make good bridge decisions. At present, 90% of all bridges on this state highway system have condi- One state DOT has separate sources of state money to tion ratings of good or excellent. Further research seeks to fund bridge needs, based on a history of successive revenue improve decision support for bridge programming and bud- packages passed by its legislature. Although some funding geting to make the bridge management process even more sources allow flexibility, other sources are more restric- seamless. tive, with budget line items that dictate individual projects, scope, and schedule. Furthermore, existing needs for bridge Another state starts with district input based on inspec- replacement and seismic retrofit reduce flexibility further. tions. Needs are organized by Interstate system, regional As a result, even with some line items dedicated to bridge corridor system, and so on. The program delivery person- preservation, work is lagging behind needs in areas such as nel in each district meet to establish priorities and discuss bridge painting, repairs, and maintenance of movable spans. the scope and timing of bridge work. This information then comes to the chief engineer's office for review. When DOTs have encountered institutional impediments to setting what they perceive as appropriate objectives Another DOT discussed its federal- and state-funded pro- and priority for the bridge program, and when procedural grams for bridge replacement, bridge repair, and so on. For improvements have appeared to be impractical, some of bridge replacement, the agency uses a method in which it them have created work-around mechanisms to attain the applies SRs, priorities according to an internal priority for- desired ends. For example, in one state, the bridge program mula, and traffic volumes to produce a list of priority bridge formulation has been stripped from STIP development. The replacement projects. This list is distributed to districts and DOT's head of asset management under the chief of opera- headquarters. The list, adjusted for comments, results in a tions now turns to bridge experts under the chief engineer federal aid bridge replacement program. The level of state for information on deficiencies, needs, recommendations, funding has remained constant for many years. In trying to and program coordination. A formula remains for distrib- complete the defined program, the agency has had to take uting funds to the primary and secondary systems, but the money from the set-aside programs for bridges, safety proj- total level of bridge funding comes off the top, so it does ects, pavement overlays, and so on. Funding for the bridge not have to compete with other projects. The agency's chief repair program has therefore declined in the last 4 to 5 years. financial officer has played a major role in taking the bridge The agency is starting to slip behind in funding pavement program out of the normal STIP development process. The preservation needs, and pavement condition is beginning to DOT commissioner has likewise supported this procedural decline as well. approach. Other DOTs have reported that their state funding for bridge programs is taken "off the top" or from set-asides Some DOTs that have BMSs with predictive capabilities for bridge use. apply them to needs estimates. They assess future bridge deterioration under different scenarios to see what the A common way to assess needs is by having staff and needs are at various time periods. However, another DOT, upper management examine bridge condition, performance, although a Pontis state, uses its BMS software mainly to and age distributions of bridges or of key components, such store inspection results, foregoing use of the system's pre-

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45 dictive capabilities. This inspection information is used to informed by technical and financial analyses, involve identify candidate projects. Agency personnel go to the field executive and senior management judgment in all to corroborate identified project needs and prepare a priority cases. Two of the five agencies rely on a single orga- list. This list is revised if needed. The highest priority proj- nizational unit to make these decisions; the other three ects are identified from both inspection data and designers' employ a senior-level meeting or an advisory commit- judgments in reviewing the proposed projects. Agency per- tee assisting agency executives. Decision making tends sonnel characterize this process essentially as triage: to deal to be centralized, although State B reports that its cen- first with serious problems, then with remaining problems. tral office unit consults with regional managers on its The agency tries to perform preventive maintenance to keep decisions. State E performs trade-off analyses across existing conditions from getting worse. programs in support of its decisions. Fund allocations to districts, regions, or divisions. Agencies also discussed their handling of special bridge Allocations of bridge monies among districts encom- program needs: particular problems on individual bridges pass a mix of procedures within and among agencies. that require ongoing attention--for example, susceptibility For example, two agencies distinguish between types to scour, seismic damage, and terrorist attack. Approaches of proposed work (e.g., replacement vs. preservation) or differ on identifying special bridge needs and allocating highway classes to be addressed (NHS vs. non-NHS) and resources to address them. In one state, monitoring devices employ a statewide competition using BMS analyses for are placed on bridges that have been identified as scour one category (e.g., bridge replacement or NHS projects), critical to understand what is happening. The DOT devotes but a formula-based allocation for the other (e.g., pres- resources as necessary to address identified problems. This ervation or non-NHS). These formulas account for the agency has had internal discussions regarding bridges that relative share of bridge inventory in each district based might be subject to terrorist attacks, but other states are on bridge length or deck area. The remaining agencies believed to have much more extensive and serious vulner- adopt other methods: a uniform distribution of funds ability problems. An emergency repair fund exists to help across all districts (driven by state law), statewide com- with identified special bridge needs. Another state notes petition among all bridge projects (supported by Pontis that homeland security is not a source of funding, although analyses), and a centrally mandated allocation. management does pay attention to the security issue. States Project prioritization. Prioritization methods reflect apply different approaches in program funding structure to a mix of centralized and decentralized techniques. address special needs. Some states have separate subpro- Several states rely on decentralized project prioritiza- grams or funding for scour or seismic needs. Other states tion, which may entail professional judgment among fund all needs from the same pot of money, with no special district bridge managers. Other agencies prioritize bridge subprograms. projects centrally with the assistance of their manage- ment systems, applying their own bridge condition and Several agencies mentioned coming bulges in needs that performance measures. One agency reports comput- will arise from the waves of bridges constructed during the ing priorities centrally, but consulting with districts on Depression and the Interstate construction era that have the results. exceeded or will soon exceed their service lives. Other age- dependent needs may emerge as a result of individual prob- 10 Additional Agencies That Were Interviewed lems with materials, workmanship, or other causes. The interviews with chief engineers of 10 additional Resource Allocation and Prioritization state DOTs echoed many of the themes identified in Tables 7 and 8. Five DOTs Represented in Tables 7 and 8 Resource allocation among programs. Decisions on Resource allocation and prioritization are at the heart of bridge program funding in competition with other trans- infrastructure investment decision making. The entries in portation programs are made in most of the interviewed Tables 7 and 8 illustrate the differences arising from central- agencies by high-level committees formally charged with ized versus decentralized bridge management philosophies. this function, or by groups of high-level agency manag- Several common themes, however, appear in all five agen- ers. For example, in one agency, these senior managers cies. These similarities and contrasts at three stages of the include the director, chief engineer, heads of design, the decision-making process are summarized here: bridge office, and other offices. Another agency includes district as well as functional managers. The specific Resource allocation among programs. Fundamental decision processes and analyses these agencies use vary, decisions on funding allocations among an agency's however. Whereas one agency applies its BMS specifi- programs are made at a high level within all of the cally to analyze critical bridge needs and conformance interviewed organizations. These decisions, although with technical standards and requirements, at least two

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46 other agencies base decisions on a highway corridor repair. Although this decision is based on the magni- approach in which bridge needs are accounted for only tude of the projected work scope, it also has funding within the broader context of roadway (particularly implications because the two categories of work are pavement) needs, with the roadways receiving greater funded from different programs. priority. Other agencies depend on managerial or com- mittee recommendations to senior managers, who make Economic Methods the final decisions on program funding. Some agencies perform trade-off analyses on different funding alloca- The five agencies in Tables 7 and 8 employ economic meth- tions, whereas others do not; one agency reported that its ods to varying degrees, but overall, their practices do not Transportation Commission is interested in the potential represent wide use. Two of the Pontis states use its benefit- of AssetManager NT, a new AASHTOWare product, cost analysis, and both are familiar with its user-cost compo- to assist in cross-program trade-off analyses. Another nent. One agency routinely applies user costs in its analyses; agency mentioned that bridge program proposals tend the second reports some issues with the calculation of road- to be data-rich compared with those for other programs, user delay costs. Two other agencies plan to use economic making it difficult to provide evenhanded comparisons methods in the future, following enhancements to their man- of needs across programs. Three of the agencies referred agement systems. The fifth agency uses economic analyses to dedicated funding mechanisms affecting bridges as a infrequently in specific cases (e.g., to compare a rehabilita- consideration in their program allocations: one state's tion versus a replacement project), but not on a regular basis. constitutional protection of highway-related funding The FHWA Division Office has recommended greater use of against modal competition; the dedicated bridge funding economic methods to this agency. provided by the federal HBP; and a desire by an agency to take all bridge funding "off the top," asserting a prior- Economic methods were not discussed in the 10 addi- ity for bridge needs and avoiding competition with other tional DOT interviews. Additional information on the appli- programs. None of the agencies discussed transfers of cation of economic methods is given, however, in the survey federal bridge funds. (Again, this topic will be covered results discussed in the next section. in chapter four.) Fund allocations to districts, regions, or divisions. Accountability and Public Communication Allocations to districts by the 10 additional states that were interviewed represent a mix of methods similar to Five DOTs Represented in Tables 7 and 8 those reported by the agencies in Tables 7 and 8. Many of the reported methods involve centralized decisions A formal program of performance monitoring and account- (or a shift toward an increasingly centralized approach), ability reporting does not yet exist among the five agencies often retaining input from the districts. Allocations interviewed, although several reported having considered the may be based on analytic results (percentage distribu- idea. Individual efforts have been undertaken in several spe- tions of needs) or criteria such as worst-first project cific areas. All agencies track NBI deficiencies in condition candidates. One agency reported a more decentralized, and performance ratings. Current reporting methods include data-driven approach involving district recommenda- providing bridge condition and performance information tion of funding needs with central office response. Two on an agency's website, issuing an annual accountability of the agencies referred to differences in allocation report, including bridge data in an agency's Transportation methods based on the type of bridge work (replacement Fact Book, applying performance management as part of or rehabilitation versus maintenance and repair), with an agency's budgeting process, and communicating with decisions on the former work categories more central- the public when needed following bridge-related incidents. ized, and on the latter, more decentralized. GASB 34 reporting also provides a measure of accountabil- Project prioritization. All of the reported prioritiza- ity. State C reported that when its new Bridge Index per- tion methods involved collaboration between central formance measure is implemented, it will provide a clearer office and districts, regardless of whether priorities are picture to the public regarding the overall condition of the set centrally or by individual districts. In one example, state's bridge inventory. the central office produces a list of priority projects, but districts can adjust the timing of projects. In another 10 Additional Agencies That Were Interviewed set of examples, the districts submit a recommended prioritization to the central office, but the final deci- Several of the additional agencies that were interviewed have sion rests with the state bridge engineer or the chief defined performance measures within a structured program engineer. One agency has a Feasible Action Review of accountability, but the detail and level of sophistication Committee to prioritize work needs and urgency. The vary. For example, one agency provides regular information committee meets monthly and determines whether the on the status of bridge preservation as well as progress in bridge work represents routine maintenance or periodic delivering the bridge construction program. Another has