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National Steel Bridge Corrosion Database


Multiple steel bridge corrosion prevention schemes have been developed and implemented in the United States. While a few bridges of each technology have been the subject of documented corrosion studies, the only unbiased, comprehensive set of corrosion performance data is NBI ratings. Unfortunately, component level ratings at best provide a vague indication regarding the performance of the corrosion prevention scheme. Surveys suggest that when a bridge owner has concerns based on the NBI inspection results, they will often perform a more detailed evaluation of the corrosion condition. The results of these inspections potentially provide a wealth of information on the performance of alternative corrosion prevention schemes. Unfortunately, the inspections are performed with a wide range of procedures nor are they archived in an accessible location.


This project seeks to create a standard format for collecting and reporting steel bridge corrosion data and create an accessible location to archive data for researchers, designers, maintainers, and others. The data will be integrated with NBIS data, environmental data, and other existing databases to generate a predictive model which can reduce or eliminate the need for follow-up inspections.


There are three primary benefits of this project:

  1. By developing a standard set of evaluation procedures, bridge owners will be able to more efficiently evaluate bridges where corrosion is a concern.

  2. By consolidating data collected from bridges where corrosion is a concern, researchers, designers and maintainers will be able to identify patterns and practices which lead to poor performance of various corrosion prevention schemes. 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:

There is no directly related research, however individual studies of bridge corrosion problems will inform the present research.

  1. Survey Bridge Owners to determine what steel bridge corrosion data is available (including NBI component and element level ratings as well as special inspections), what additional data is feasible to collect, and how the database might be used. (3-6 months)2. Collect and distill existing steel bridge corrosion data. This should include NBIS data and data from special studies. (9-12 months)
  2. Develop the database format and inspection procedures based on the results of the survey and an analysis of the existing data. The scheme should be relevant to both painted steel and uncoated steel bridges. Alternative sites for data archiving should be evaluated which are easily populated and maintained. (9-12 months)4. Beta test which should include working with multiple agencies to both collect the new corrosion data and evaluate the database content and output. (12-15 months)

The database will inform transportation decision-making by providing bridge designers and maintainers access to a broad range of field performance data. The data could also be used as the basis of a life cycle cost model for corrosion impact on steel bridges.


Provide a data resource that allows designers and maintainers to make more informed decisions and extend their visibility to more effective corrosion prevention and control technologies.

Sponsoring Committee:AFF20, Steel Bridges
Research Period:Longer than 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:Steel bridges, Corrosion, Databases, Inspection,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Data and Information Technology
Maintenance and Preservation
Bridges and other structures

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