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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Data Collection


The goal of the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program's data collection effort is to inspect, evaluate, and periodically monitor representative samples of bridges nationwide to achieve the following:

  • Collect, document, maintain, and manage high-quality quantitative performance data over an extended period.
  • Construct a research-quality database on bridge condition and performance.
  • Assist with the development of improved design methods and maintenance/preservation practices.

This data collection effort will benefit the following:

  • LTBP Program: Will advance research in deterioration and predictive models and provide improved inspection and condition information through nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and structural health monitoring (SHM).
  • Bridge owners: Will have access to tools that will help them tailor management practices to optimize resource allocation and quantify the effectiveness of various maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation strategies.
  • Stakeholders and the LTBP Community: Will develop long-term relationships across government, industry, and academia, leading to a collaborative, sustainable, long-term research and development effort.

What Data is the LTBP Program Collecting?

The LTBP Program is collecting quantitative, research-quality bridge performance data on a national basis over time to help quantify the effects of external factors and internal attributes at the individual bridge and network level.

The initial data collection effort is focused first on untreated concrete bridge decks and then on treated concrete bridge decks. Data collection for joints and bearings occurs concurrently with deck evaluations which permits addressing several of the LTBP Program's high priority issues concurrently. As time progresses the program will expand to include additional bridges and will collect data more efficiently in subsequent cycles.

Legacy Data Mining

Mining bridge documentation and legacy data provides a broader context and comparative framework for the reference and cluster bridges and allows for the identification of potential trends that may merit further examination.

High Priority Bridge Performance Issues

Bridge performance is a multifaceted issue involving performance of: materials and protective systems, individual components of the bridge, and the structural system as a whole. The LTBP Program was initiated to collect, store, and analyze the data necessary to better understand high priority bridge performance issues. The success of the program depends on identifying the most important performance issues that bridge owners face. To identify these issues, feedback was sought from those bridge owners and other key stakeholders. As part of this outreach, bridge experts from 15 State transportation departments were interviewed and asked to name the performance issues in their bridge inventory that are most common and/or most difficult to solve. The findings of these interviews are included in report FHWA-HRT-14-052, LTBP High Priority Bridge Performance Issues, published in 2014.

To supplement these interviews and identify high priority issues related to bridge substructures, a workshop on substructure performance issues was held. The findings from the interviews and the substructure workshop were used to develop a list of 22 high priority performance issues. From this, a shorter list of six bridge performance issues was recommended as the first group of issues for study under the LTBP Program.

Based on input from stakeholders and considering current resources of the program, the following key topics in table 1 will be addressed initially:

Table 1. Initial study topics for the LTBP Program.
DecksUntreated concrete bridge decks
DecksTreated concrete bridge decks
JointsBridge deck joints
BearingsBridge bearings
Steel BridgesCoatings for steel superstructure elements
Prestressed concrete bridgesDetection of the condition of embedded pretensioned strands and posttensioning tendons

Each of these high priority performance issues will be examined in detail, and the specific data necessary to study the issues will be identified.

How is the LTBP Program Collecting Data?

To ensure that LTBP Program data are collected in a consistent manner over the duration of the program, data collection protocols are being developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for use by practitioners, LTBP researchers, and decisionmakers involved with the research, design, construction, inspection, maintenance, and management of bridges. Report FHWA-HRT-16-007, Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program Protocols, Version 1, was published in January 2016.

More information about the LTBP Program Protocols can be found on the Products page.

Last updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2021