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Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of new techniques, materials, and systems to extend bridge life frequently requires some form of life cycle analysis at the project level. Where networks are concerned, life cycle analysis can be useful in determining budgetary levels and the scheduling of activities which will ensure that maximum bridge life is obtained. As part of this latter process, a procedure developed for the state of Texas is reported, which allocates a budget for bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects using multi-attribute criteria and user-friendly computer programs. The system is a two-level closed loop procedure based on standard bridge inventory data and addresses the concerns of both state and district levels within the state. One state level program determines those bridge projects meeting FHWA financing criteria while a second program takes this subset and applies specific state criteria for project ranking and prioritization. The user of this module can rank the candidate projects using a multi-attribute technique and can complement this with an automatic qualification process based on user-defined threshold values. The multi-attribute approach uses statistical techniques applied to the entire state bridge population. Therefore, as this data set is regularly updated in accordance with FHWA requirements, it captures information on both recent deterioration and improvements to structures. A district reporting program incorporates regional knowledge of structures and their condition into the decision-making process.
The system methodology can be useful to any state officials engaged in ranking bridge projects since it incorporates managerial experience and uses statistics derived from current national bridge survey data. It also fits into the latest research findings on the development of a comprehensive bridge management system.
bridge management, bridge rehabilitation, bridge inventory, ranking, life cycle costs, multi-attribute criteria, prioritization
Graduate research assistant, Center for Transportation Research, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Research economist, Center for Transportation Research, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Zarrow centennial professor in engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
The Dewitt C. Greer centennial professor, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX