Owner Initiated Modernization of Bridge Safety Inspections

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This paper reports on an “asset management” research program that is applicable to both the private and public sectors. This work presents the strategies and endeavors initiated and driven by a public sector owner in an effort to modernize their current asset management practices. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) is attempting to modernize a bridge safety inspection processes that requires over 14,000 bridges be inspected at least once every two years. The research effort involved investigating the capability to transform and replace paper-based inspection practices with advanced mobile computing practices. A series of owner-agency initiated research proposals are discussed and the impacts each would have on the procedural processes directed at transforming current work processes with newer mobile handheld computing processes. Ultimately the DOT selected a phased proposal and activated the first phase. This first phase research approach is presented, as are the results. The research determined that field inspections are readily transformable from one that relies on field marking paper reports and then returning to the office for semi-manual reporting to one that is electronically assisted in the field by using handheld computers. Identifiable areas of assistance are field data capture, automated asset inventory updates, and semi-automated report production. From this analysis a series of strategies and recommendations were identified. The owner-agency’s decision to abandon a controlled phased study in favor of an ad-hoc in-house development process is then presented and discussed.



Bridge inspection