In the United States, the stewardship and management of more than 590,000 bridges present many ongoing planning, operational, maintenance, and economic challenges for Federal, State, and local transportation agencies. To help overcome these challenges and foster the next generation of bridge and bridge management systems, in April 2008, the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Infrastructure Research and Development launched the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program, a major new strategic initiative designated as a flagship research program. The authorization of the LTBP Program was included in legislation for surface transportation programs enacted by the United States Congress in 2005: The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The Long-Term Bridge Performance Program is intended to be a 20-year undertaking with both short- and long-term goals. It includes detailed inspection, periodic evaluation and testing, monitoring, and forensic investigation of representative samples of bridges nationwide by taking advantage of proven sensor technology.
The objective of the Long-Term Bridge Performance Program is to compile a comprehensive database of quantitative information from a representative sample of bridges nationwide, looking at every element of a bridge. The data and information collected in this program will provide a more detailed and timely picture of bridge health; improve knowledge of bridge performance; and ultimately promote the safety, mobility, longevity, and reliability of the Nation's highway transportation assets.