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72 performance measures, a well-defined data structure tion and management; (3) FHWA oversight of the NBIS; (4) founded in the NBI database, standardized and customized identification and funding of remedial work on structurally element-level data in many agencies, and a number of man- deficient bridges nationwide; and (5) use of NBI deficiency agement systems and other analytic tools, again with custom and sufficiency ratings in administering the life-cycle cost features in many cases. Agencies that apply more advanced HBP, as well as the introduction of a new program to address features of the BMS are able to take advantage of economic structurally deficient bridges. These trends and events that as well as technical data and analyses, scenario and trade-off will influence bridge management in future years are sum- analyses, and decision support procedures. Successful asset marized in the following subsections. management processes have enabled agencies to transition from a worst-first approach to one based on long-term cost- State Department of Transportation Bridge Management effectiveness, employing life-cycle cost principles. System Improvements for Decision Making Impediments to greater use of BMS results that survey Several DOTs interviewed for this study described custom- respondents mentioned included limited resources for imple- ized BMS improvements in a number of areas that go beyond mentation and training, lack of credibility of the suggested the NBIS requirements; for example, new bridge condition actions and economic assumptions, results that did not reflect and performance measures or indexes, collection and pro- all factors that needed to be considered in decisions, a co- cessing of additional bridge data beyond that required by opting of managers' prerogatives in reaching decisions, and NBIS, and development of custom BMS models to estimate reliability problems with software, data, and analyses. Some the near-term and long-term impacts of bridge investments. of these comments echoed responses in the Topic 27-09 sur- These state-specific initiatives, supplementing the NBI SR, vey (NCHRP Synthesis 243) more than 10 years ago, includ- were believed to provide the following: ing the expense of system development and implementation and limitations in the usefulness of management systems Better descriptors of state highway bridge condition generally to the programming process. (It should be noted Better guidance for needed bridge investments that the 27-09 survey responses applied to a number of man- Better information on the benefits of bridge invest- agement systems, not just BMS.) ments. Asset Management Peer Exchanges Factors Driving Potential Change In Bridge Management A series of peer exchanges involving state DOT personnel, TRB, and FHWA has considered several topics in asset man- The NBIS inventory data, ratings, and appraisals continue agement pertinent to this synthesis: planning and operations, to have an important influence on bridge management after programming and budgeting, and data and information. Sev- almost 40 years in service. They influence public perceptions eral issues identified at these sessions mirror those discussed of bridge condition and performance, determination of project for bridge management and decision making in chapter eligibility for federal HBP funding, and project priority. The three--for example, a lack of advanced analytic capabili- NBI database, which stores the bridge inventory, rating, and ties such as scenario testing and trade-off analysis in legacy appraisal data collected by state DOTs, serves several impor- systems, contradictory feelings about the value versus the tant functions. It is the most comprehensive, up-to-date, uni- complexity and potential error of predictive modeling used fied source of bridge information nationwide. It has amassed for forecasts, and the expense of management systems and an almost 40-year history of bridge characteristics, condition, continuing data collection. Recommendations of these peer and performance. NBIS data contribute to the bridge portion exchanges may suggest ways to improve bridge program of the biennial Conditions and Performance report submit- management as well--for example, research to strengthen ted to Congress, and tabulations of deficiency and sufficiency analytic capabilities within BMS where needed, the value of ratings are widely known and consulted. The NBIS were integrated data that have multiple uses, the significant added originally established to protect public safety by developing value of spatial referencing and display of data, the value of information on bridge structural and operational integrity. a solid asset management approach in building agency cred- Although they were not conceived as a stand-alone manage- ibility when justifying additional funding, and the desirabil- ment tool, they exert a major influence on bridge investments, ity of moving from worst-first to more proactive, preventive federal apportionments, and project funding eligibility. investment strategies. Several trends and events reviewed in this synthesis study U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector point to potential changes in bridge management and in the General Review of National Bridge Inspection Standards NBIS specifically. Upcoming reviews of the NBIS may drive potential changes in (1) the composition and quality U.S.DOT Secretary Mary Peters announced a comprehen- of NBI data; (2) the application of NBIS to bridge inspec- sive review of NBIS the day after the I-35W bridge collapse.

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73 This review, now under way by the U.S.DOT's Office of through decisions on resource allocation and funding trans- Inspector General,(OIG) comprises three phases: fers) to better match available funds to eligible needs, and address needs better than would have been the case using 1. An assessment of the FHWA's progress in responding solely the SR criterion. It was proposed that at a minimum, to recommendations of a prior OIG review in March the federal government should update procedures and crite- 2006, which addressed FHWA oversight of structur- ria by which NBI sufficiency and deficiency ratings influ- ally deficient bridges and its pursuit of risk-based, ence bridge program funding decisions. (Following this data-driven methods to guide its oversight efforts. testimony, the FHWA did clarify policies allowing greater flexibility in funding bridge deck repairs, as permitted by 2. A review of how efficiently and effectively state DOTs SAFETEA-LU.) have applied federal HBP funding and discretionary funding to correct bridge structural deficiencies. Other aspects of bridge management addressed in the congressional testimony included bridge inspection proce- 3. A review of FHWA's oversight of the safety of National dures and innovative inspection technologies; performance Highway Safety-system bridges nationwide. of bridge materials; use of inspection data for decision mak- ing; and needed research. The testimony sought to correct Public Reaction to Bridge Collapse misimpressions regarding the designation of a bridge as structurally deficient. Executives also voiced support for There was much public reaction following the I-35W bridge newly proposed bridge funding to reduce structural deficien- collapse. This synthesis study has reviewed those aspects of cies nationwide. public reaction that bear on the scope of work. It has not addressed the cause of the bridge collapse or the subsequent Government Accountability Office Report completion of the bridge replacement project, topics that are not within the scope of work. Regarding NBIS ratings, news A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report accounts reported confusion over the meaning and clarity of and accompanying testimony before Congress raised sev- the term "structural deficiency," reflecting the difficulty gen- eral issues regarding the focus of the federal HBP, the data eral audiences had in understanding what the designation and techniques now available for bridge management, and means for bridge condition and public safety. Federal and results achieved to date in correcting structurally deficient state transportation agencies, professional organizations, and bridges. The GAO recommended the following actions: congressional committees set up websites to explain NBIS ratings and statistics and provide information on bridge proj- Define the national goals of the HBP. ects and programs. Determine HBP performance relative to goals. Identify and evaluate bridge management best prac- Changes Proposed in State Department of tices that can improve performance of the HBP, such Transportation Congressional Testimony as BMSs. Evaluate HBP funding mechanisms to identify how Changes in HBP procedures and criteria were proposed in funding can be aligned more closely with performance, congressional testimony following the I-35W bridge collapse. supporting a more focused and sustainable federal State DOT executives, some of whom represented both their bridge program. respective departments and AASHTO, recommended that Congress and the FHWA allow state DOTs greater flexibil- Federal Bridge Legislation ity to apply HBP funding according to bridge management principles, methods, and criteria. The federal government Legislation now before Congress portends change in the should remove (or at least relax) some of the arbitrary project future practice and technology of bridge management. eligibility thresholds associated with the SR. DOTs that were The current bills before the House and Senate include the using systematic, data-driven, performance-based asset following provisions, subject to further congressional management techniques could then achieve more efficient deliberation: preventive and corrective investment strategies that were superior to existing, worst-first methods. BMS. Each state shall develop and implement a BMS. Performance Plan and Risk-Based Priorities. States The DOT executives before Congress also addressed shall develop a 5-year performance plan for bridge concerns regarding how state DOTs apply HBP funds. They inspections and for rehabilitating or replacing struc- noted that the total amount of investment in bridge programs turally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges. exceeds what would be needed simply to match the federal The secretary of transportation, in consultation with HBP contribution. Moreover, the combined funding from all the states, shall establish a process for assessing risk- sources is managed to provide a degree of flexibility (e.g., based priorities of bridge actions, and assign such a