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75 states, this decision is decentralized, with program alloca- aged the use of economic analysis techniques, together with tions made by districts. In some states, this decision may be better definition and documentation of programming and moot if bridge funding is allocated "off the top" or is reserved resource allocation procedures. in a noncompeting set-aside. However, even with off-the-top funding of the bridge program, there may be resource alloca- tion issues if the funding level has remained level over time Standard Reports and is now insufficient to meet bridge needs. The standard reports that are available on bridge manage- Agencies range along the entire spectrum from highly cen- ment depend on the functionality of an agency's BMS and tralized to totally decentralized cultures, although many of the built-in reporting features and options. Two BMSs with the examples that were provided in interviews stress repeated quite different analytic capabilities that were described in consultation and agreement between central office and dis- chapter two are used as examples. trict personnel, regardless of approach. In many agencies, the management style is mixed, with centralized techniques The first example is the Alabama Bridge Information often applying to bridge replacement and rehabilitation (i.e., Management System (ABIMS), which is essentially a man- projects that are eligible for federal HBP funding), and more ager of bridge data. Its database is a repository of descrip- decentralized responsibility typically applying to bridge tive information on bridge structural characteristics, traffic maintenance and repair (i.e., projects that tend to be funded loads, geographic and route location, functional class, age, by state money). Decisions thus flow in both directions, top and so forth, as well as current and historical records of down and bottom up (see Figure 1). Even in decentralized inspection data. NBI data are included for annual report- organizations, the central office often handles major bridge ing to the FHWA, and custom data defined by the agency projects and also may retain responsibility for bridges on are likewise included. Standard reports therefore focus on "trunk line" or "backbone" networks that have statewide breakouts of bridge characteristics, bridge condition, and significance (e.g., refer to State B in Table 7). information on related management tasks such as inspection and maintenance. The categories of reports that are available One state bridge maintenance engineer noted that his include lists of the bridge inventory and bridge character- agency's adoption of a BMS helped the bridge maintenance istics in various formats, current and historic NBI ratings, office to promote a stronger identity for its bridge program, bridges scheduled for inspection, bridge maintenance needs, which up to that time had been viewed more as an adjunct of bridge posting status, and bridge projects. The inclusion of the road investment program that addressed primarily pave- custom data often creates the need for a corresponding set of ments. With the support of a BMS and its data, the bridge reports. The ABIMS thus provides a list of bridges by prior- maintenance unit was able to strengthen its role in bridge ity in terms of several categories of Deficiency Points, which program leadership and decision making within the agency is Alabama's custom measure of bridge condition. (refer to State D in Table 8). Its district involvement in bridge replacement decisions was strengthened as well. A manager can tailor all of these reports to focus on par- ticular areas of interest as appropriate to the report structure. These selections include geographic jurisdictions, specific Use Of Economic Methods bridge structures, responsibility codes for inspections and for maintenance, specific types of inspections or of mainte- Agencies use economic methods to varying degrees, but nance to be displayed, the years to be displayed in historical overall the practices do not represent wide use (see Figure reports, and so forth. Some categories of reports, such as 19). Common examples of use for individual structures are those related to identified bridge needs and actual mainte- the application of methods such as benefit-cost to major nance work performed or to explanations of bridge engineer- bridge projects, or life-cycle cost comparisons of rehabili- ing characteristics, may be available in both summary and tation versus replacement options for specific structures. detailed formats. All reports in ABIMS represent current or Agencies that have full-featured BMS such as Pontis are historical snapshots of bridge status. Because the BMS has more likely to employ economic analyses in network-level no predictive models, it offers no forecasts, scenario analy- bridge management tasks, such as determining optimum ses, or other future-oriented reports. investment strategies. These network analyses may include user costs as well as agency costs. Even in these cases, how- The second example is Pontis, a full-featured BMS in use ever, there may be reservations about the transparency of in more than 40 state DOTs. Pontis presents a broader selec- the analytic procedures or disagreement with the methods' tion of standard reports, reflecting its more extensive fea- assumptions (refer to Tables 7 and 8 for examples). Several tures and functionality. The reports are organized by Pontis agencies remarked in interviews that they are planning to system modules, examples of which are listed here. Reports apply economic analyses to a greater degree in bridge man- are available in metric or English measurement units. If a agement in the future. FHWA division offices have encour- report pertains to a given structure (as opposed, for example,