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Suggested Citation:"2. Research Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Guidelines to Improve the Quality of Element-Level Bridge Inspection Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25397.
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3 2 RESEARCH APPROACH In summary, the approach of the research team was to develop implementable guidelines to improve the consistency of data collection and assessment of bridge element conditions for element-level bridge inspections. A guideline was developed that provides a tool for inspectors to improve the quality of element-level data collection. A visual guide was developed that provides images that illustrate the different condition states (CSs) for defect elements described in the MBEI. This guide was developed by capturing images (photographs) in the field that demonstrated the different CSs for many common defect elements. Subsequently, the visual guide was integrated into a revised version of the MBEI and submitted to AASHTO for consideration. The guideline also provides guidance on methodologies for developing and verifying accuracy requirements for element-level data collection. Analysis and deterioration modeling were conducted in order to develop rational accuracy requirements with a statistical basis. The anticipated variation in inspection results were considered in the analysis, as well as the impact of different accuracy requirements on deterioration modeling and decision-making. Field exercises were completed that evaluated the use of the visual guide in the field. The field exercises were planned in cooperation with participating state Departments of Transportation in Indiana and Michigan, and with the Steel Bridge Research, Inspection, Training, and Engineering Center (S-BRITE) at Purdue University. The methodology for developing the field exercise plan was to identify suitable test bridges and develop specific plans to test key aspect of the guidelines developed through the research. This included evaluating the quality of element-level data and potential improvements to quality resulting from use of the guidelines developed through the research.

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Guidelines to Improve the Quality of Element-Level Bridge Inspection Data Get This Book
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TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Web-Only Document 259: Guidelines to Improve the Quality of Element-Level Bridge Inspection Data is intended to assist inspectors in identifying defects and assigning the appropriate condition state for bridge elements.

To ensure the safety and serviceability of bridges, the guidelines include accuracy requirements designed to help promote consistency in the collection of element-level data for bridges on the National Highway System.

The quality of element-level bridge inspection data is critical for effective bridge management and asset management practices. Therefore, the guidelines also include a methodology developed to verify the impact of different accuracy requirements on deterioration models.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Manual for Bridge Element Inspection includes elements of the guidelines in NCHRP Web-Only Document 259.

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