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OCR for page 74
74 risk-based priority to rehabilitating or replacing struc- management, and application of the NBIS. It also appears turally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges. likely that federal oversight of state DOT bridge inspection, National Bridge Inspection Program and Critical program management, and treatment of deficient bridges and Deficiencies. Several aspects of the NBIS will be critical findings may be strengthened. If current federal legis- improved to promote greater uniformity of practices lation is passed substantially as now written, federal respon- among states in areas of quality and compliance sibilities for bridge program oversight may be backed in part reviews. NBIS will include procedures for detecting, by a greater focus on accountability to relate funding to per- monitoring, correcting, and reporting on critical find- formance, quality assurance, quality control, and increased ings regarding bridge deficiencies, and provide for the compliance reporting among state DOTs, the FHWA and use of state-of-the-art technology to detect fatigue U.S.DOT, and Congress. This is the direction in which the damage. The secretary of transportation shall estab- state of practice in applying bridge management to state- lish regulations governing the training of inspectors agency decision making is proceeding as of the end of 2008. regarding critical findings and state reporting of criti- cal findings to the U.S.DOT, with subsequent reports The following paragraphs provide conclusions on addi- to Congress. The secretary shall expand the bridge tional, specific topics that were requested to be addressed in inspection training program to ensure that all persons the scope of work. inspecting bridges receive appropriate training and certification. Required qualifications of bridge inspec- tion team leaders will be strengthened. Organizational Units Making Program Decisions Funding and State Participation Requirements. To be eligible for federal funding of bridge rehabilitation and replacement, states must meet several require- Various offices and organizational levels are involved in ments spelled out in this legislation, including the use different types of bridge-program decisions (see Table 9). of a BMS, development and implementation of a 5-year Decisions often are made with joint or multiple-office par- performance plan, and bridge inspections that satisfy ticipation. Generally speaking, an agency's bridge office is criteria specified in the legislation. States will be per- significantly involved in all programming decisions that deal mitted to transfer HBP funds to other federal aid pro- specifically with bridges, but this authority is shared with grams as long as no NHS-system bridges are eligible other groups within and outside the agency. For example, for replacement. major bridge projects involve strong participation by agency Independent Reviews and Research. The legisla- executives and, in some states, the transportation board or tion calls for several studies by independent agencies commission. Regional and local officials will also be involved and research groups. These studies include a review for major bridge projects in urban areas. Local bridge pro- by the NAS of the risk-based priority approach for grams engage local and regional bodies to work with the state bridges discussed previously, and GAO studies of the agency's local or municipal assistance office. Districts (or effectiveness of the current FHWA bridge rating sys- regions or divisions) generally have a strong say in decisions tem, bridge rating approaches now used by state DOTs, involving all categories of bridge projects within their juris- and construction delivery-related issues that affect dictions: local, state-owned, and major bridges. Although bridge rehabilitation. The legislation identifies several the bridge unit plays a key role in establishing performance research needs and a pilot program regarding advanced measures and targets for bridge programs, agency executives technologies that could be applied to bridge inspection also have a clear interest in bridge condition and performance and condition assessment. as an important dimension of agency performance statewide. Other state agency units are strongly involved in bridge pro- Summary: Direction of Bridge Management and Its Use gram performance monitoring, including offices responsible for Decision Making for planning, development or investment management, policy and strategy, and asset management. The several influences identified in the preceding subsec- tions will overlay the current practices and initiatives by state One programming decision where the bridge unit does not DOTs described at the beginning of this chapter. These com- have a dominant role among reporting agencies is in the alloca- bined effects will shape the future of bridge management and tion of resources among competing agency programs: bridge how its practices, systems, and information will be used in versus pavement, safety, maintenance, and so on. Leadership coming years to inform investment and resource allocation on this decision is seen either as an executive-level function, decisions. Although these interactions are just evolving and with transportation board or commission involvement as well their outcome is not yet determined, it appears likely--based in several states, or as a broader departmental decision involv- on the numerous and significant federal and state actions ing units such as planning, investment management, policy described previously--that changes will occur in state DOT and strategy, project management, and (in a Canadian prov- bridge inspection and condition assessment, bridge program ince) the director of highway design and construction. In two