About the Program
The Kansas Local Bridge Evaluation Program is a special initiative being led by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to bring local route bridges’ inspection records up to the prescribed minimum standards for bridges on city and county roads. The four-year program will evaluate each of the more than 20,000 locally-owned bridges across the state. This effort is necessary for Kansas to remain eligible for federal aid bridge funds.
This initiative comes after a 2007 and 2008 review of the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) program in Kansas by the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) where FHWA found Kansas was not in compliance with standards for documenting scour critical and fracture critical bridge inspection and analyses in the state. Through a negotiated agreement, a unique multi-phase initiative was developed to address shortcomings. The initial phase was completed in 2010. Phase 1 confirmed select inventory data of all the bridges within the state, gathered information about bridge locations, types and existing action plans for the bridges, and began the evaluation of each bridge for susceptibility to damage caused by river flow.
Phase 2, called the Kansas Local Bridge Evaluation Program will involve conducting (a) analyses of bridges over water features to determine whether they are in danger of being damaged or washed out due to the forces of waterways (scour critical evaluation) and (b) fracture critical inspections and load rating analyses to determine whether a bridge is of a type and physical condition making it susceptible to possible collapse in its current condition and arrangement. This phase is being financed from the FHWA’s annual allocation to the State of Kansas for bridge maintenance, repair and construction. Over the course of the next four years, about $20 million of the total $180 million allocation will be used for the bridge evaluation program.
The bridge evaluation program is not to be confused with the biennial inspection program currently in place for bridges on city and county roads; the NBIS requirements have not changed. Instead, the work now being conducted by a team of six engineering consulting firms working in support of KDOT will form the foundation for the future of the biennial inspection program. By using the consultant team, KDOT will be able to focus on those structures posing the greatest risk and achieve economies of scale, saving money in the long run.
Further, it is anticipated that the process will be uniform and consistent; information will be readily stored; and appropriate documentation of scour-related concerns will be prepared for those bridges needing them. These analyses will serve as the foundation for future NBIS biennial inspections, with every reasonable effort taken to see that each of the more than 20,000 bridges receives equal consideration.