Life-cycle Cost Analysis for AK Bridge Components

AIDC project number: 207083


J. Leroy Hulsey (UAF)

  • US Department of Transportation (RITA)
  • Permafrost Technology Foundation
  • Start Date: May 1, 2009
  • End Date: Jul 31, 2011

Project Summary

Decaying infrastructure and limited renewal funds are moving our national transportation system toward crisis. Which bridges are past their service life? Which could function for another decade? What will it cost to replace each? The U.S. Department of Transportation has asked every state to develop a long-range plan (through 2030) for bridge replacement. To meet this goal, Alaska must create a priority list and a plan to replace its own aging infrastructure. The accepted design life for a bridge is 75 years, but this arbitrary number does not take into account new building techniques, seasonal stresses, or variations in frequency and size of vehicles supported, to say nothing of environmental stresses like scouring, ice damage, and earthquakes. Bridges deteriorate in different ways, at different rates. A more accurate way to determine an existing bridge's service life is essential to the state's plan. The research team is collecting data on environmental conditions, material aging processes, repair records, and current costs. Results are contributing to a process for conducting life-cycle cost analyses for highway bridges in Alaska. This project provides state planners and engineers with the tools to estimate an average cost per bridge, as well as the upper and lower bounds of maintenance and/or damage costs.