Optimizing Bridge Safety: Statewide Load Rating Program

GBA is one of two consulting teams developing and executing a statewide off-system bridge load rating program for approximately 20,000 bridges over 10 years. Many of these bridges are in rural areas consisting of all types and sizes.

Throughout the program, GBA is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the other consultant team to develop and update program policies and procedures, including forms and guidelines to ensure reliability and consistency statewide.

During the first couple of years of the program, a large data-gathering effort was completed to collect and digitize available plans and inspection records for all bridges across the state. The data is stored in a cloud-based data management system that can be easily accessed by all stakeholders during future years of the program. This effort required extensive communication and coordination with the local public agencies.

Based on the information obtained through the data-gathering efforts, GBA’s bridge inspection team leaders are performing field investigations (special inspections for load rating) on each bridge.  The inspections include verifying available construction plans, measuring bridge geometry and member sizes, documenting section loss and defects and evaluating the current condition ratings. This information is used in analyzing the current load-carrying capacity of each bridge.

All load rating analysis is being completed in AASHTOWare BrR software using LFR or LRFR methods. KDOT’s goal is to have a BrR analysis model on each bridge for future use. The AASHTOWare BrR model is developed based on the available plans and field investigations.  All bridges are evaluated for the standard AASHTO legal loads, including the special haul vehicles (SU4 thru SU7) as well as the emergency vehicles (EV2 and EV3).

After completing the load rating analysis, a comprehensive report with a signed/sealed load rating summary sheet is compiled for each bridge. These reports are delivered to each bridge owner and required to be on file.  GBA coordinates with the local public agencies and KDOT to deliver the final reports.  The delivery meetings are one-on-one meetings with each bridge owner to explain the program, address any significant findings and address any load posting changes or closures that may be required.

Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT)

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