The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-01 [Active (Synthesis)]

Highway Infrastructure Inspection Practices for the Digital Age
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Melissa Welch-Ross
Research Agency: University of Kansas
Principal Investigator: Daniel Tran
Fiscal Year: 2021

Final Scope


Highway infrastructure inspection is critical in any transportation system because it ensures conformance with plans, specifications, and material requirements over the lifecycle of the asset. Historically, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have employed on-site workforces to execute infrastructure inspection using traditional inspection methods. With the latest technological advancements, the inspection landscape has been rapidly changing through incorporation of technologies such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), embedded and remote sensors, intelligent machines, mobile devices, and new software applications. These technologies can potentially satisfy the need for cost-effective and efficient inspection and monitoring of highway infrastructure (e.g. roadways, bridges, drainage systems, signage).

The objective of this synthesis is to document the various technologies used by DOTs to inspect highway infrastructure during construction and maintenance of assets.

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):

  • The technologies used for inspection of new and existing highway infrastructure assets (e.g., geospatial technologies, mobile software applications, nondestructive evaluation, remote sensing and monitoring);
  • The different methods used to assess the viability, efficiencies, and return on investment (ROI) of inspection technologies;
  •  How information from these assessments is being used (e.g., for construction project management, to allocate resources, to determine condition of the asset).

Information will be collected through literature, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):  

  • Chase, S., Edwards, M. (2011). “Developing a Tele-Robotic Platform for Bridge Inspection.” Virginia Transportation Research Council and Mid-Atlantic University Transportation Centers Program.
  • FHWA research on the use of RFID tags to track paving materials (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/pavements/14061/index.c fm)
  • Heymsfield, E., and Kuss, M. L. (2014). “Implementing Gigapixel Technology to Highway Bridge Inspections.” Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000561, 04014074.
  • Gibb, S. P. (2018). “Non-destructive Evaluation Sensor Data Processing and Fusion for Automated Inspection of Civil Infrastructure.” MS Thesis.
  • La, H. M., Gucunski, N., Dana, K., and Kee, S. (2017). “Development of an Autonomous Bridge Deck Inspection Robotic System.” Journal of Field Robotics, 34(8), 1489–1504. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary. wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/rob.21725, https://doi.org/10.1002/rob. 21725.
  • Mulder, G. (2015). “e-Construction,” Iowa Department of Transportation, Presentation on May 27, 2015.
  • NCHRP Project 22-33: Multi-State In-Service Performance Evaluations of Roadside Safety Hardware (Research in progress)
  • NCHRP Synthesis 545: Electronic Ticketing of Materials for Construction Management
  • NCHRP Synthesis 548: Development and Use of As-Builts Plans by State DOTS
  • NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 51-01: Practices for Construction-Ready Digital Terrain Models (Current Synthesis)
  • Effective Use of Geospatial Tools in Highway Construction (Publication No. FHWA HIF10-089, October, 2019)
  • NCHRP Project 20-68A, Scan 17-01: Successful Approaches for the Use of Unmanned Arial Systems by Surface Transportation Agencies.

TRB Staff
Melissa Welch-Ross
Phone: 703-867-4716

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 26,2020 (Virtual)
Teleconference with Consultant: December 1, 2020, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
Second Panel: July 13, 2021  

Topic Panel
Scott Arnold, Florida Department of Transportation
Shawn Blaesing, Iowa Department of Transportation
Alexa Mitchell, HDR
Piervincenzo Rizzo, University of Pittsburgh
Craig Ruyle, New York State Department of Transportation
Paul Wheeler, WSP
Matthew Corrigan, Federal Highway Administration
Nelson Gibson, Transportation Research Board


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