The US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration require routine inspections to monitor bridge deterioration. Typically, bridge inspections are conducted every 24 months. This timeframe was determined solely based on engineering judgment. The objective of this study is to develop probabilistic models to forecast bridge deterioration and statistically determine the optimal inspection intervals. A two-dimensional Markov process model that considers the current condition of a bridge, and number of years that the bridge has been in that condition, is created to predict future bridge conditions based on historical data. Using the forecasting model, a statistical process is developed to determine the optimal inspection intervals. The proposed methodology in this study is implemented, utilizing a dataset consisting of information about deterioration conditions of more than 17,500 bridges in the state of New York from 1992 to 2018. The outcomes of the statistical analysis indicate that the typical 24-month inspection interval is considerably pessimistic, and not necessary for all bridges currently in condition 5 or higher. However, the 24-month interval is too optimistic and risky for bridges currently in condition 4 or lower. The outcomes of this study help bridge owners and transportation agencies assign maintenance resources efficiently, and invest the millions of dollars currently allocated for unnecessary inspections in much-needed infrastructure development projects.
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