Mid-America Transportation Center


Date of this Version


Document Type



Report # MATC-UNL: 224 Final Report


A Cooperative Research Project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

Copyright (c) 2009 Mid-America Transportation Center.


Performance of the transportation network strongly depends on the performance of bridges. Bridges constitute a vital part of the transportation infrastructure system and they are vulnerable to extreme events such as natural disasters (i.e., hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, major storms), as well as hazards stemming from negligence and improper maintenance, collisions (vessels and vehicles), intentional acts of vandalism, and terrorist attacks. These structures must be protected but the current approach to risk is not rational. Therefore, the objective of this project is to develop efficient risk analysis procedures for assessment of the actual safety reserve in highway and railway bridges. The focus is on the approach at the system level using system reliability methods. Sensitivity analysis relates the reliability of bridges and of the transportation network. The results will then be used to identify the critical parameters. The target risk will be determined depending on consequences of failure and relative costs. Rational selection criteria will be developed for the target risk level for bridges (components and systems) as a part of the transportation network, based on the consequences of failure and relative costs. This will involve the development of efficient system reliability procedures that will be applied to perform sensitivity analysis relating various parameters and reliability. The resulting sensitivity functions will provide a rational basis for identification of the most important parameters that affect the network performance. Rational selection criteria for the target risk will find important applications in decision making processes regarding operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement. This proposal will impact education and development of human resources since it will provide undergraduate and graduate students with research opportunities. The results will be included in courses and will be disseminated to wider audiences through presentations and publications.

A Webinar video presentation is at: http://vimeo.com/38525158