Looking to the future of bridge inspection and management in the UK

J Bennetts, S R Denton, G T Webb, D T Nepomuceno, P J Vardanega

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


The management of a national infrastructure network presents a large and complex problem. Management organizations must decide how best to allocate their finite resources in order to maintain and upgrade the network, which is primarily composed of large, high-cost, assets that are designed for a long service life. In managing bridges, detecting and predicting deterioration can present a significant technical challenge as it often progresses very slowly until critical thresholds are reached. Furthermore, organizational challenges such as short-term financial pressure adds to the complexity. Typically, there is significant uncertainty inherent in many of the key pieces of information required for the decision-making process, and the options for reducing uncertainty are costly and slow. The system that must make these decisions comprises an interconnected network of technical and organizational processes embedded within an eco-system of government and commercial organizations, each with differing goals. Bridge management organizations need to collect and record appropriate and sufficient asset data to understand the condition of their stock, predict future performance and design effective programmes of maintenance. Typical current practice for recording of this data on highway structures in the UK is to collect schedules of the current state of bridge defects, such as cracks, graded by their extent, and their severity as observed at 6-yearly Principal Inspections. This paper reviews the decisions that asset managers need to make and the effectiveness of the current inspection, recording and management practices to support these. Enhancements to current approaches that will enable the data collected to better support the expectations of the data’s users are proposed. In particular, a change in the approach to inspection recording is proposed to place a much greater focus on assessing the way asset condition changes, in addition to recording its current condition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBridge Maintenance, Safety, Management, Life-Cycle Sustainability and Innovations
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Bridge Maintenance, Safety and Management (IABMAS 2020), Sapporo, Japan, 11-15 April 2021
EditorsH. Yokota, D.M. Frangopol
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
PublisherCRC Press/Balkema, Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Print)9780367232788
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

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