Digital Documentation of Element Condition for Bridge Evaluation

Project status


Start date: 07/01/13
End date: 12/31/14


Principal investigators:

About the research

Bridge condition inspection data provide critical and rich information for assessing structural condition. Currently, the majority of bridge inspection methods use printed checklists, and their interpretation is labor intensive, subject to personal judgment, and prone to error. To realize the full benefits of bridge inspections, there is a need to automate the data management process. This research project implemented Bridge Information Modeling (BrIM) technology for bridge inspections and compared it to the conventional approach of paper checklists. This environment combines a 3D representation of the infrastructure, and allows the integration of inspection data, such as the presence of damages, types of damages, severity, localization and previous maintenance decisions. In this report, BrIM acronym is used to refer to the database that integrates a 3D bridge model and bridge element condition data. In order to validate this approach, 2D drawings and previous inspection and maintenance data of two bridges located in Ames, Iowa were obtained and modeled using Revit software. Both models were then synced using cloud based solutions so that they could be accessed from tablet computers on-site. Then, the BrIM based inspection methodology was tested with Iowa DOT engineers and bridge inspectors, who confirmed that BrIM would be beneficial to automatically query, sort, evaluate and send information to decision makers. Furthermore, a web-based survey with several DOT engineers and bridge inspectors was conducted regarding possible expected benefits of using 3D BrIM based solutions for inspections. It is concluded that this methodology has the potential to substantially improve bridge assessment and maintenance operations, which would result in time and cost savings associated with bridge inspection and assessment, as well as improved structural resiliency as a result of more effective and comprehensive bridge management means.


Report: Digital Documentation of Element Condition for Bridge Evaluation (33.3 mb pdf) February 2015



  • Mid-America Transportation Center