Management Guidelines for Bridges with Unknown Foundations

The Situation

The foundations of more than 60,000 of America’s water-spanning bridges are unknown. Bridge owners need guidance on managing these structures in the absence of structural data – information crucial for safe operation and maintenance. State Transportation Agencies nationwide identified guidelines as a critical need, so the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the National Academies turned to GKY & Associates, Inc. to develop recommendations.

The Solution

GKY&A developed risk-based guidelines which specify how to:

  • Collect appropriate data
  • Estimate the risk of failure and associated economic losses, using an easy-to-implement methodology
  • Apply this risk in a structured approach to select an appropriate management plan

Identifying hazards to these bridges and developing strategies to deal with these hazards was a critical part of the task. We provided two frameworks for managing risk – one set of guidelines for bridge scour and one for other hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Bridge owners now have access to an approach for developing bridge management plans, increasing safety for tens of thousands of bridges across the country.

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