Management of Utah Highway Culverts

December 30, 2005
Publication: Transportation Research Record 1904, Journal of the Transportation Research Board n 1904 p 113-123
Author(s): Jesse Beaver McGrath, Timothy J.

Abstract: More than 47,000 culverts have been installed under the highways of Utah. The Utah Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains these culverts but has no comprehensive system for assessing condition and planning maintenance activities. Utah DOT initiated a study to determine the condition of its culverts by field surveys. The objective was to develop a system of qualitative and quantitative performance measures to assess both the long- and short-term behavior of highway culverts and to support the Utah DOT effort to modify and populate a computerized database designed to store culvert inspection data that can be used for statewide culvert asset management. Culvert management practices currently used by Utah DOT and other agencies are described. A total of 272 culvert inspections conducted during this project showed the inventory to be aging but not generally in need of immediate maintenance. The Utah DOT database, developed to track culvert condition, is effective but could be unproved. Improvements would streamline both culvert inspections and priority ranking of culvert repairs. The FHWA system for rating culvert maintenance action was adopted, with a new proposed table for rating thermoplastic pipe. Culvert ratings were adjusted with an importance modifier that focused inspection and maintenance activity on critical culverts with higher consequence of failure. Critical culverts should be placed on a regular inspection schedule, whereas other culverts can be inspected during periodic roadway repaving or rehabilitation. Culvert inspection results will be added to the database to provide more insight eventually into culvert service life than is now possible.

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