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Section 2: Federal Bridge Program

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Funding Classifications

The Federal Highway Administration designates two classifications of deficient bridges that are eligible for funding under the Federal Highway Bridge Program (HBP). A bridge must be classified as Structurally Deficient or Functionally Obsolete in order to be eligible for funding by the Federal Bridge Program.

The funding for this program is limited and is divided between bridges located on the state highway system (on-system) and those bridges located on city streets or county roads (off-system). As of September 1, 2010, there is about $230 million available for the HBP each year. About $170 million is for on-system bridges and about $60 million is for off-system bridges.

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Selection Process

All publically owned, vehicular bridges in Texas are inspected every two years and a sufficiency rating for each bridge is generated using information from the inspection and other factors in the Bridge Record. Approximately 34,000 bridges are on the state system and about 18,000 bridges are off the state system. Safety is TxDOT's main focus in prioritizing bridges for replacement or rehabilitation in the HBP. Accordingly, structurally deficient (SD) bridges are given the highest priority for the program. SD bridges are programmed in order of lowest sufficiency rating first. The sufficiency rating is a numerical evaluation of a bridge's structural adequacy and safety, serviceability and functional obsolescence, and essentiality for traffic service.

The Bridge Division is responsible for selection of bridges for the HBP and develops a list of all bridges eligible for HBP funding. The Bridge Division then works with the Districts to establish a list of bridges that the Districts submit for consideration of funding through the HBP. The Bridge Division sorts the bridges that are submitted from the Districts and orders them by SD and lowest sufficiency rating for the year the district has requested funding.

Five year bridge programming plans are developed. The bridges selected for the first year of the program are authorized for construction letting. The other four years are for planning purposes and letting dates are subject to change based on changing conditions.

Each year the Bridge Division evaluates all eligible HBP bridges for the next five years. Bridges programmed for the second year of the five-year program are automatically programmed for the first year of the next five-year program subject to available funding.

Bridges are selected in this order until funding is exhausted for the first year of the program. Bridges that are not programmed in the first year are added to the second year and are prioritized until funding is exhausted. This process is repeated for each year of the HBP. If all of the SD bridges being considered for a particular year are funded, then Functionally Obsolete bridges are considered for that year giving highest priority by lowest sufficiency rating.

After this five-year list has been established, the Districts are given the opportunity to request special consideration of projects that were not selected in the first year. The Bridge Division and Administration review these requests and determine if they will be programmed. However, if a special consideration project is approved, another project(s) on the approved list must be moved to the following year because the program is fiscally constrained. This in turn requires projects in the second year to be moved to the third year and so on until the program is adjusted for all five years. The bar is very high for special consideration projects to be approved since a project that made the list based on a worse condition than the special consideration project has to be moved to the next year.

Our goal is to use all of the available funding each year so that as many deficient bridges are replaced as soon as possible. However, funding not used in the current fiscal year is rolled over to the next year. To best utilize all of the available funding each year, bridge projects that are selected in the second year of the program are to be developed and ready to go to letting in the first year of the program. This allows second year projects to be moved easily into the current fiscal year upon the delay of another project.

Each month the Bridge Division monitors the status of projects that go to letting and the available funds remaining in the current fiscal year. Around March of each year the Bridge Division evaluates projects that have been delayed and moves projects from the next year to the current fiscal year to use the balance of funds in the HBP.

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Structural Deficiency

A bridge is considered Structurally Deficient if there is a Condition Rating of 4 or less for:

  • Item 58 (Roadway) or
  • Item 59 (Superstructure) or
  • Item 60 (Substructure)
  • Item 62 (Culvert)

    or if it has an Appraisal Rating of 2 or less for:

  • Item 67 (Structural Condition) or
  • Item 71 (Waterway Adequacy)
  • Item 71 is considered only if the last digit of Item 42 (Type of Service Under the Bridge) is 0, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9
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Functional Obsolescence

Three methods establish if a bridge is considered Functionally Obsolete:

  • An Appraisal Rating of 3 or less for Item 68 (Roadway Geometry), and Item 51 (Bridge Roadway Width) is less than the following:
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    If Item 29 (ADT) equal or less than...

    Item 51 (Roadway Width) Curb to Curb (feet) <...

    250

    20

    750

    22

    2,700

    24

    5,000

    30

    9,000

    44

    35,000

    56

    ADT greater than 35,000 requires review by the FHWA



  • An Appraisal Rating of 3 or less for either of:
    • Item 69 (Underclearances) or
    • Item 72 (Approach Roadway Alignment)

      Item 69 is considered only if the last digit of Item 42 (Type of Service under the Bridge) is 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, or 8

  • An Appraisal Rating of 3 or less for either of:
    • Item 67 (Structural Condition) or
    • Item 71 (Waterway Adequacy)

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