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67 · All participating agencies had established performance Topic 37-07 Survey measures and had procedures to set performance tar- gets and track progress toward them. However, the Two questions in the survey of state and provincial DOTs approaches used to set targets vary widely, and the probed respondents' perceptions of needed improvements technical and road-user-related implications are not in bridge management processes or systems that would bet- well understood. For example, "many agencies struggle ter serve upper management in resource-allocation decision with questions like: Is a target of 80% of the network in making: good condition the `right' target?" · The most often cited risk considered in programming and · What desired capabilities are not now provided by the budgeting is the possibility of project overruns. Labor agency's bridge management business processes or and materials cost inflation have superseded scope creep BMS? as the primary cause in many agencies. Agencies use · What desired capabilities either are unavailable in the several strategies to deal with this risk, including apply- agency's BMS or are available but not currently used? ing contingencies, tracking on-budget performance, (This question was part of the budgeting component of improving cost-management accountability, implement- the survey.) ing a risk mitigation program, and applying a financial plan rather than a detailed program-project plan in pro- Responses to these questions focused on two broad topic gram out-years (i.e., specifying an overall program bud- areas: perceived gaps in existing knowledge and capabilities, get but not specific projects and their costs). and suggested ways to strengthen existing capabilities. · Research opportunities identified by participants focused on application of asset-management methods Gaps in Existing Knowledge and Capabilities to other assets besides pavements and bridges, and to other types of work besides preservation (e.g., opera- One set of responses pointed to shortcomings perceived by tions and system expansion). individual agencies in the following areas: · Gaps in basic planning, programming, and budget- Research Needs To Fill Gaps In Knowledge ing information in agency business processes--for example, funding levels, district priorities, and local TRB Millennium Paper priorities; funding availability from various sources; and the level of funding authorization from the federal The TRB Millennium Paper on Bridge Maintenance and government for the federal HBP Management identified several research, development, and · BMS information or capabilities that were lacking implementation needs that are relevant to this synthesis within a particular responding agency. Examples of fea- (Hearn et al. 2000): tures that respondents said were not available or being used within their agencies included the following: · To exploit technology and processes to gather data more Scenario analysis, trade-off analysis, and LCC cost-effectively and reliably (i.e., of higher quality). analysis Candidate approaches include better visual inspection, Performance tracking and comparison with targets nondestructive testing, and automated data collection. Tracking of past and planned bridge work by orga- · To develop improved data (e.g., regarding bridge dete- nizational unit or geographic area. rioration, costs, and impacts of maintenance) and algo- rithms (e.g., more powerful and flexible optimization Although existing, full-featured BMSs provide several procedures and economic analysis tools) to enable of these features, some respondents noted their agency's more comprehensive, detailed, and realistic analyses. inability to acquire such a BMS because of resource limita- · To integrate bridge management within an agency's tions. Other possible reasons for not using these BMS fea- overall asset management program. tures include the need to train staff or to customize certain · To pursue fundamental advances in bridge-monitor- BMS features to produce results that better meet agencies' ing technology (e.g., permanent sensors and wireless expectations. communication) to be able to shift from current visual inspections and condition ratings to completely auto- Strengthening Existing Capabilities mated gathering of comprehensive, objective, quantita- tive data on bridge condition and performance. A second set of responses suggested ways to strengthen busi- · To emphasize bridge preventive maintenance actions ness processes, BMS capabilities, and information needed for and integrate proactive, preventive strategies from the sound, cost-effective investment decisions through advances start of a bridge's life. such as the following:
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68 · Coordination of the bridge program with other pro- management system that tracks pavement and bridge projects grams and projects (e.g., roadways) across a broader and the deficiencies that are removed by project work. set of policy objectives (e.g., preservation versus capacity). The perceptions of bridge management practitioners · An ability to explore choices and trade-offs and to cal- regarding current BMS models are somewhat contradictory culate LCCs of each alternative. and present a complicated picture as to how to advance this · Long-term effects (benefits and other impacts) of pro- aspect of the state of practice. Although some survey respon- posed expenditures on bridges. dents noted the lack of certain BMS capabilities and sug- · Comparisons of performance measures versus target gested research to develop additional types of analyses, other values and outcomes for alternative scenarios. respondents reported using these same features, which are · Total project costs, not just those related to work on readily available today in BMS products. Still others voiced the bridge structure proper. Additional items include, concern about the "black box syndrome" and the usurping of for example, the costs of right-of-way, detours, utilities, managers' decision-making prerogatives by high-level BMS roadway approaches and embankments, and so forth. operations. These contradictory feelings are not limited to · Socioeconomic and political considerations related to bridge management. The proceedings of the peer exchange bridge projects. on information and decision making (discussed earlier in · A more complete bridge management package, able this chapter) observed a similar mix of reactions to the use to help evaluate achievement of performance targets, of forecasting models to support decision-making in asset to generate alternative scenarios subject to budget management generally. constraints, to explore choices and trade-offs, and to calculate resulting road-user costs, which would be Blanket Responses beneficial from a budgeting perspective. · Information on key parameters (e.g., regarding condi- Consider again the two questions posed at the beginning of tion, performance, and budget) that would facilitate this survey section: (1) What desired capabilities (of those delegating to lower-level managers the responsibility listed in the survey questionnaire) are not now provided for selecting what work to do on specific bridges on by the agency's bridge management business processes or the network. BMS? (2) What desired capabilities either are unavailable in · BMS predictions of the funding levels needed to main- the agency's BMS or are available but not currently used? tain structural condition, described by the respondent as a derivative of alternative scenario generation sub- Almost one-third of responding agencies provided blanket ject to budget constraints. Just as important would be affirmative or negative responses (evenly divided) to these BMS estimates of bridge investments and their timing survey questions. Those that responded simply "yes" might to be able to identify bridge network maintenance at be thought to imply a need for strengthened BMS capability the lowest LCC. in their agency. Those that responded "no" might be thought · Strengthened BMS algorithms in the calculation of to imply either that they already had these capabilities, or LCCs, scope of bridge performance analysis, and they did not believe that these BMS features were needed in treatment selection. (These comments related to Pontis their current business and decision processes. specifically.) Congressional Legislation There is a perception that BMS recommendations now lean toward selecting indefinite maintenance or repair strate- The pending congressional bridge legislation discussed ear- gies rather than eventual bridge replacement (two states made lier (H.R. 3999 and S. 3338) includes the following provi- this comment; in one respondent's opinion, this is owing to sions for research: the way the BMS computes benefits). Another agency ques- tioned the current calculation of LCCs, and mentioned that · Existing provisions of federal law governing surface its BMS lacks the capability to suggest projects driven by transportation research are revised to (1) include traffic capacity. enhanced bridge safety as a research objective in investigating new methods, materials, and testing One agency reinforced these points by noting that its BMS techniques, and (2) call explicitly for research in non- does not contain all information and capabilities needed for destructive evaluation equipment to assess bridge funding and programming decisions--other resources are structural integrity for existing as well as next-genera- consulted during decision making. Although these gaps were tion facilities that use advanced materials. not specifically identified, they related generally to perfor- · The draft legislation establishes a Bridge Advanced mance tracking, needs analysis, and resource allocation and Condition Assessment Pilot program to encour- trade-off analyses. The agency also noted that it applies other age application of new technologies to bridge condi- tools to the program development process, including a project tion evaluation. Examples of new technologies may
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69 include, but are not limited to, fiber optic, vibrating · To define the specific national goals of, and federal wire, acoustical emissions, and peak-strain displace- interests served by, the HBP ment. The technologies will perform real-time sens- · To develop performance measures that respond to, ing to gather data for accurate assessments of critical and reflect progress toward, these federal goals and bridge elements. interests · The secretary of transportation shall conduct a study of · To identify best-practice methods and tools that can the costs and benefits of using carbon-fiber composites be incorporated within the HBP, drawing on existing in lieu of traditional materials in bridge rehabilitation approaches such as BMSs and leading-edge techniques and reconstruction. applied by state DOTs · To review and evaluate mechanisms that can align Support of Government Accountability Office HBP funding with performance to achieve a focused, Recommendations sustainable federal bridge program. Research may be needed to support GAO's recent recom- mendations on the federal HBP. Research could potentially help in several areas: