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Life Cycle Cost Model for Steel Bridge Corrosion Prevention


Preventing corrosion of steel bridges is a long-term proposition. The consequences a particular strategy will have on future generations is often given less weight than the near-term consequences (e.g., project cost, impact on the travelling public).


Develop a credible, useful, dynamic life cycle cost model that can be used by all levels of a public transportation agency to make informed decisions regarding corrosion prevention of steel bridges. End-users may include policy makers, planners, designers, and maintenance departments.


There are five primary benefits of this project:

  • Optimize life-cycle planning, risk management, and financial planning for steel bridges.

  • Support development, implementation, and improvements to agency asset management plans for improving and preserving steel bridges.

  • Identify the appropriate corrosion prevention technology to be selected for a given environment.

  • Allow realistic projection of maintenance needs, creating a basis for policy-makers to plan for or even mandate future maintenance expenditures over the life-cycle of the structure. The savings in maintenance, repair, and replacement costs could approach $1 billion per year if the annual cost of bridge corrosion was reduced by just 10%.

Related Research:

A number of life-cycle cost models and analyses are available (e.g., FHWA RealCost). However, these models rely on the user to make assumptions about corrosion performance. A universal, comprehensive, and credible set of corrosion assumptions and criteria have not been developed to inform these models


The proposed work should include the following tasks:

  1. A Literature Review should identify and catalog the life-cycle cost, service life prediction, maintenance strategy, and other related models. Each identified model should be evaluated and catalogued. (2-3 months)

  2. An Agency Survey should be conducted to identify the critical factors which should be included in the life cycle cost model. (2-3 months)

  3. A Model Development plan should be created that incorporates an iterative process of development and testing ensuring the widest possible applicability/acceptance. (4-6 months) The model should be developed, tested, and validated in accordance with the project plan. (16-24 months)


Implementation of the LCCA model will require validation and institutionalization. The model should be validated by one or more agencies through demonstration cases. The model can be institutionalized by working with trade associations such as National Steel Bridge Alliance, The Society for Protective Coatings, or NACE International. The model may also inform the current AASHTOWare products.


Provides a basis for long-term decision-making which will more effectively allocate resources to design, construct, and maintain steel bridges

Sponsoring Committee:AFF20, Steel Bridges
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:J. Peter Ault, P.E.
Source Info:NCHRP Synthesis 48-03
Date Posted:03/19/2018
Date Modified:04/20/2018
Index Terms:Life cycle costing, Steel bridges, Corrosion protection,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Maintenance and Preservation
Bridges and other structures

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