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The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-03 [Active (Synthesis)]

Practices for Ensuring Bridge Surface Smoothness
[ 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: SME
Principal Investigator: Rohan Perera
Fiscal Year: 2021

Final Scope


Highway structures are one of the most expensive and important assets transportation agencies own and maintain. The travelling public prefers to travel across smooth riding highways. Bridges are too often some of the roughest portions of the highway network.

Rough bridge surfaces can produce the following negative impacts:
• Increase in vehicle user costs by accumulative wear and tear on vehicles
• Increase in freight cost resulting from additional damage to goods or packaging costs
• Potential safety concerns with non-uniform tire loads
• Decrease of the life of a structure by increasing dynamic loads
• Reduction of user satisfaction

The objective of this synthesis is to document department of transportation (DOT) practices for ensuring bridge surface smoothness through the lifecycle of a structure.

Information gathered includes (but is not limited to):
For construction:
• Acceptance thresholds (e.g., what are the thresholds and do they vary, for example, by functional class, speed, or structure type)
• Localized roughness threshold values and analysis parameters
• Equipment utilized for evaluating bridge smoothness, reporting requirements, and standards
• Time frame for data collection and corrective action
• Index and data analysis requirements used to evaluate smoothness
• Length limits of applying bridge smoothness
• Who collects the data (e.g., quality control and verification)--agency, contractor, or third party
• Use of pay adjustment factors

For long-term performance:
• Equipment utilized for evaluating bridge smoothness
• Index used to evaluate the smoothness
• Length limits of applying bridge smoothness
• Maintenance activities and schedule for ensuring smoothness (e.g., joints, surface treatment, bridge approaches)
• Role of bridge inspectors and tools used for evaluation
• Funding mechanisms for bridge preservation

Information will be collected via literature review, 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):
• Road Profiler User’s Group (RPUG).
• AASHTO Technical Service Programs

TRB Staff
Melissa Welch-Ross
Phone: 703-867-4716
Email: mwelch-ross@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 28, 2020 (Virtual)
Teleconference with Consultant: December 2, 2020, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm Eastern
Second Panel: July 12, 2021

Topic Panel
Cory Burrall, Vermont Agency of Transportation
James Corney, Utah Department of Transportation
Mohamed Mahgoub, New Jersey Institute of Technology
William Middleton, Mississippi Department of Transportation
Magdy Mikhail, AgileAssets, Inc.
LaDonna Rowden, Illinois Department of Transportation
Larry Wiser, Federal Highway Administration
Stephen Maher, Transportation Research Board

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