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About LTBP

What Is the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program

The LTBP Program is a long-term research effort to collect and make available high-quality bridge data on a nationwide basis that will help the bridge community better understand bridge performance. The Products from this program will include a suite of data-driven tools, including predictive and forecasting models that will enhance the ability of bridge owners to optimize their management of bridges.

What We Do

Program Objectives

The primary program objectives listed below are expected to improve the understanding of long-term bridge performance and result in more efficient bridge design, construction, rehabilitation, maintenance, preservation, and management.

The primary objectives of the LTBP Program are as follows:

  • To collect, manage, and provide easy access to data.
  • To perform in-depth data analysis.
  • To develop tools and products.

Additionally, the LTBP Program is designed, in part, to collect critical performance data that are not available elsewhere and merge the data with data gathered from available sources. This requires close collaboration among stakeholders, State transportation departments, and academia.

Data Collection Goals

The wealth of data collected through the LTBP Program and the subsequent data analysis will help to:

  • Improve knowledge of bridge performance.
  • Advance research in deterioration and predictive models.
  • Improve life cycle cost analysis.
  • Improve inspection/condition information through the use of new technologies including Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) and Structural Monitoring (SM) methods.
  • Further the advancement of technology used for the assessment of critical but hidden bridge elements and components.
  • Support development of improved bridge design methods and bridge maintenance and preservation practices.
  • Quantify the effectiveness of various maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation strategies.
  • Improve the operational performance of bridges with the potential to reduce congestion, delay, and accidents.
  • Promote the next generation of bridge management systems.

Ultimately, improved understanding of bridge performance will promote safety, mobility, longevity, and reliability of the Nation's highway transportation assets and will allow bridge owners to make better data-driven decisions while managing their bridge inventory.

Why We Do It

What is Bridge Performance?

Understanding bridge performance is the key to creating the bridge of the future. Bridge performance is a multifaceted issue involving the performance of materials and protective systems, individual bridge components, and the structural system as a whole. The performance of any bridge or bridge element depends on multiple factors, many of which are closely linked. They include: the original design parameters and specifications (bridge type, materials, geometries, and load capacities); the initial quality of materials; the quality of construction; varying conditions of climate, air quality, and soil properties; and corrosion and other deterioration processes. Other factors influencing performance include traffic volumes; weight and influence of truck live loads; and damage sustained as a result of scour, impact, seismic events, and wind.

Several additional critical factors influence performance such as the type, timing, and effectiveness of preventive maintenance, of minor and major rehabilitation actions, of preservation actions, and ultimately of replacement actions applied to the bridge. These factors combine to affect the condition and operational capacities of the bridge and its various structural elements at any given point of its life cycle. Currently, not all aspects of bridge performance are well understood or well documented. Attempts to assess how bridges are performing are partly based on expert opinion and/or analyses that are hampered by lack of crucial data, and thus are dependent on one or more assumptions or generalizations.

Why Measure Bridge Performance?

Bridge performance measures have different uses depending on the perspective and responsibilities of the individuals using the measures. Bridge performance measures are useful for the following reasons:

  • Identifying clear links between specific policies (such as the type and quantity of anti-icing materials), actions, and the resulting change in the performance level of a bridge element.
  • Improving knowledge of how and why bridges deteriorate.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the effectiveness of various design, construction, inspection, and preservation strategies, as well as management practices.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the effectiveness of durability strategies for new bridge construction, including material selection.
  • Improving bridge management practices using qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Evaluating serviceability and durability.
  • Setting priorities for resource allocations and evaluating organization-wide policies and programs such as the split between maintenance and capital funds.
  • Establishing risk-based evaluations of bridges that are vulnerable to failure.

LTBP Program Contacts

FHWA Staff

Y. "Jane" Jiang, P.E.
Team Leader
Long-Term Infrastructure Performance Team
Office: (202) 493-3149

Robert (Rob) Zobel, P.E., Ph.D.
Program Coordinator
Long-Term Bridge Performance Program
Office: (202) 493-3024

Shri Bhide, Ph.D., S.E., P.E.
LTBP Research Structural Engineer
Office: (202) 493-3302