Manage & Improve Bridges

The National Park Service (NPS) manages a complex system of bridges. For our management purposes, we include tunnels in this category of infrastructure as well. These bridges are the lifeline connecting parks and communities across the nation. NPS professionals from the Federal Lands Transportation Program, the Denver Service Center, parks, and regions around the country work together to maintatin this critical infrastructure. From conducting condition assessments, to planning to rehabilitation/repair and replacement, learn more below about how the NPS uses asset management practices to care for bridges and tunnels.

Current Condition of NPS Bridges

In FY15, the NPS improved the conditions of 34 bridges at a cost of $31.8 million dollars. That amounts to over 8 miles of bridges (27 bridges rehabilitated or repaired and 7 replaced). The last reported change in the Servicewide Bridge Health Index (BHI) for public motor vehicle structures increased from 0.919 to 0.93 (1.19 %) excluding Arlington Memorial Bridge and from 0.896 to 0.916 (2.23%) including Arlington Memorial Bridge. Currently, 3.5% of NPS bridges are considered structurally deficient. As bridges are inspected on a two year cycle, the BHI does not specifically account for changes from the beginning to the end of FY15. The condition of tunnels is included in BHI.

Bridge Management System

The bridge management system is intended to improve decision making about the type and priority of bridge investments, based on inspection data now collected as part of the Bridge Inspection Program (BIP). For more than 20 years, NPS staff have collected condition data on all bridge structures greater than 20 feet in length.

Under this inspection program, the following occurs:

  • Safety inspections are performed on public bridges and tunnels (vehicular) and nonpublic bridges (vehicular and trail), to ensure public safety.

  • Inspection reports are produced for each structure to summarize condition and corrective action needed.

  • In-depth field testing is performed as indicated by initial analysis to determine the bridge needs.

A fully developed bridge management system will provide a basis for recommendations for optimal expenditures of funds and will identify critical needs on a system-wide basis. The information collected also will provide input for the preparation of rehabilitation plans and specifications, and for construction support.

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