Bridge Retrofit or Replacement Decisions: Tools to Assess Sustainability and Aid Decision Making

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CAIT project no.: CAIT-UTC-NC5

Fiscal Year: 2014/2015

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Abigail Clarke-Sather, Ph.D., Thomas Schumacher, Ph.D., Arsha Tabrizi, M.S., Patrick Szary, Ph.D.

External Author(s): Robert Healy, RK&K

Sponsor(s): USDOT-FHWA, RK&K


Many bridges in this country have reached their intended service-life, and are deemed in need of maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement services. A life cycle inventory collects relevant information about sustainability impacts that can be used to assess the effect of decision on the economy, environment, and society. Bridge management sustainability assessment can be thought of as impacting owners (A), road users (B), and the environment (C). The development of life cycle inventories that cost sustainability impacts are increasingly relevant to bridge management systems (BMS).

This research proposes an A+B+C costing method to assess sustainability impacts that are otherwise externalized. Employing the A+B+C costing method, the impacts incurred to the owner, user, and environment and are summed to provide a total cost to score the overall efficiency and sustainability of each option. Transportation agencies spend millions of dollars to maintain rehabilitate, and replace bridge expansion joints each year. A case study measured the sustainability impacts of different deck expansion joint rehabilitation/replacement options for a bridge’s remaining service life using the A+B+C costing method. The most cost effective joint maintenance program for the remaining life of the bridge was found to be approximately $188,000. The most expensive joint maintenance program cost approximately 52% more. For each program option considered, the owner costs ranged between 10-15 %, the societal costs ranged between 80-90 %, while the environmental costs ranged between 2.6 and 2.7 % of the total.