Five Key Elements to Optimizing Bridge Maintenance

The American Society of Civil Engineers says that 40% of bridges in the United States are at least 50 years old, and 10% of them are structurally unfit. Nearly 200 million vehicles cross over those bridges each day. With so many bridges deteriorating, a more proactive approach to maintenance is necessary.

Preventing bridges from becoming structurally deficient, as well as making repairs in a timely manner, are critical to maximizing the safe operating life of bridges. In our experience, there are 5 elements related to maintaining and preserving bridges most effectively:

1- Establish a long-term commitment to maintenance and other improvements throughout the entire life of the bridge. Creating a timeline and checklist can be helpful.

2- Develop a schedule for maintenance activities, including washing and cleaning, lubricating bearings, clearing drainage areas, repainting exposed areas, removing trash and other debris, coating beams and girders and installing overlays on concrete decks.

3- Integrate predictive, condition-based maintenance as part of your strategy. Although cyclical maintenance is necessary, predictive, condition-based maintenance allows for repairs to be made proactively to extend useful life. Replacing or sealing leaking joints, reinforcing structural sections as loading grows beyond originally planned levels, detecting unexpected events affecting bridge health, and painting and sealing structural steel are examples of proactive measures that predictive, condition-based maintenance can help you identify and implement.

4- Have a crisis maintenance plan in place. If something has happened unexpectedly to the bridge, or to people using it, the structure’s integrity is insufficient. Responding to an unforeseen situation by promptly showing empathy to individuals adversely affected, as well as by arranging immediately for repairs or replacement, and traffic re-routing planning is the absolute minimum in this instance. By making predictive, condition-based maintenance a part of your operations, you can avoid crises.

5- Make sure you have, or have access to, the right equipment to maintain the bridge properly. The best equipment saves time and money when repairs are necessary.

A proactive approach to bridge repair and maintenance goes a long way toward preventing crises and helps to maximize operating life and minimize the cost of upkeep, as well as reduce legal exposure.

Learn more about how MOXI™ IIoT System Analytics can help you with your bridge maintenance strategies.

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