Purpose of Inclusion of Performance Measures in MAP-21
Including performance measures in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) has been done to ensure the effective risk-based management of available assets and the decision-making associated with the improvement of infrastructural quality. Performance measures linked to pavement and bridge infrastructure can allow the key decision-makers to establish quality improvement objectives, identify the existing gaps in performance, and develop investment strategies. For assessing the effectiveness of the introduced performance measures, frequent evaluations are put in place. Such evaluations based on performance measures lead to the development of reasonable alternatives for improving “roads, highways, or bridges that require repair and reconstruction activities from emergency events” (Federal Highway Administration).
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Bridge Performance Measures Adopted in 2017
The two key performance measures of 2017 adopted about bridges were Pavement and Bridge Condition for the National Highway Performance Program and the National Highway Performance Program Final Rule (published on January 18, 2017, and effective on May 20, 2017) (FHWA, “National Performance Management Measures”). The measures were established for State departments of transportation to carry out the National Highway Performance Programs alongside with assessing the state of pavements on bridges, Interstate Systems, on- and off-ramps, and the National Highway Systems overall (NHS) (FHWA, “Two Performance Management Final Rules Take Effect”).
NHS Bridges in the United States
If to consider the total number of bridges in the United States, there are approximately 610,749 bridges, 23% of which belong to the National Highway System that covers 58% of the total deck area of the country (U.S. Government Accountability Office). Based on the data provided by the Federal Highway Administration (U.S. Department of transportation), there were 144,610 of NHS bridges in the United States as of 2016, with the number increasing with the expansion of the National Highway Systems (FHWA, “Deficient Bridges by Highway System 2016”). It is important to mention several states with the largest numbers of deficient NHS bridges; for instance, there are 17,000 of such bridges in Texas, 5,325 in Florida, 5,136 in the state of New York, 5,071 in Ohio, and 5,858 in Pennsylvania. Delaware (323), District of Columbia (154), Rhode Island (414), and Alaska (400) are among the areas with the lowest numbers of NHS bridges (FHWA, “Deficient Bridges by Highway System 2016”).
It has been established that in the case of states showing the same or increasing rate of deficient NHS bridges (10% and more), the total deck areas to which the bridges belong would be considered Structurally Deficient, forcing states to invest in appropriate quality improvement projects. The statistics show that the rates of deficient bridges are decreasing. As of now, the gap between the desired 10% and the recent rates of deficient bridges is not large, as mentioned in the USA Today report prepared by Jansen. As found by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the number of “structurally deficient NHS bridges decreased by 20% (between 2005 and 2012) and functionally obsolete NHS bridges decreased by 2%.”
The barriers associated with decreasing the number of deficient bridges is associated with the slow pace of investment, the low purchasing power of local governments, tax increases, the lack of federal government support, and the slowing down of the major projects initiated by state departments of transportation.
Federal Highway Administration. “MAP-21 National Highway Performance Program.” ACPA. 2015, Web.
FHWA. “Deficient Bridges by Highway System 2016.” FHWA. 2016, Web.
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FHWA. “Two Performance Management Final Rules take Effect.” FHWA. 2017, Web.
Jansen, Bart. “Study: 58,000 U.S. Bridges Found to be ‘Structurally Deficient’.” USA Today. 2018, Web.
U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Transportation Infrastructure: Information on Bridge Conditions.” GAO. 2015, Web.