Improving Preventive Bridge Maintenance


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Title: Improving Preventive Bridge Maintenance

Author(s): J. L. Silfwerbrand

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 277


Appears on pages(s): 67-78

Keywords: life-cycle cost, performance based specifications, preventive bridge maintenance, technical requirements.

Date: 3/1/2011

During the last decade, the Swedish Road Administration (SRA) has transferred resources from corrective to preventive bridge maintenance. Presently, 10 to 15 percent of the budget is devoted to preventive maintenance whereas corrective maintenance, repair, and reconstruction comprise the remaining 85 to 90 percent. This reallocation has resulted in considerable efficiency gains but further savings are likely to be large. Preventive maintenance aims at measures to maintain the function of the bridge structure. Frequent measures include water washing, cleaning, vegetation removal, crack repair, material refill, and stretching of bridge railings. SRA has defined a series of technical requirements to harmonize the preventive bridge maintenance. Several technical requirements state that a structural element or element part “should be 95 percent clean”. SRA has also developed methods to verify that the technical requirements are fulfilled. However, the scientific basis for the relationship between the technical requirements and the function of the bridge structure is unknown or weak. The verification methods are not always unquestionable. The paper contains a critical review of the technical demands for preventive bridge maintenance in Sweden. Do they adequately promote durability and long-lasting service life? Are the prescribed requirement levels appropriate? Could the technical requirements be replaced by other and better requirements? How do they look like in an international comparison? There is a general belief that performance-specified contracts would be more cost-effective than other contract types. Do the Swedish demands facilitate or obstruct performance-specified contracts for bridge maintenance? The questions are discussed in the paper that also contains a summary of a Swedish pilot study conducted at the Swedish Cement and Concrete Research Institute.