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FHWA Releases Report on Information Modeling for Bridges

Monday, September 12, 2016  
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Project Spearheaded by the National Institute of Building Sciences

Following a two-year effort, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a report, Bridge Information Modeling Standardization, which sets a path to implement the use of computer modeling for bridge construction in the United States.

Over the past several decades, many industries have improved efficiencies by moving from document-based information exchanges to integrated data models. The construction industry, including buildings and heavy/highway, has lagged behind manufacturing industries for a number of reasons. The FHWA’s goal was to build on the progress that the buildings sector has made in building information modeling (BIM) standardization, through the work of the National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART Alliance, the buildingSMART International and other industry participants, to advance the standardization of digital information for bridges—otherwise known as bridge information modeling (BrIM)—in the United States.

By developing the basis for industry consensus standards for BrIM and related data exchange protocols, FHWA provides a common approach to coordinate the various phases of bridge design and construction projects, as well as the ongoing maintenance and operation associated with asset management.

As the project lead, the National Institute of Building Sciences formed a team of experts in open standards-based BIM using the buildingSMART International Industry Foundation Class (IFC) model, and in bridge design and construction. The team began by researching existing modeling standards and efforts; evaluating bridge planning, design, construction and operations processes; and analyzing the state of practice, to identify a path to BrIM implementation.

The resulting report, which is available in four sections, includes example component models of steel girder and reinforced concrete box beam bridges (two typical highway bridge styles) for use to exercise available approaches and determine capabilities and shortcomings. The report is for use by practitioners in transportation agencies, design firms and software companies in the bridge domain. It is available to FHWA, the American Association of State of Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), state departments of transportation and technology companies to implement the report’s recommendations to advance a common methodology for establishing BrIMs. Download the FHWA report.

In addition, FHWA and the National Institute of Building Sciences are releasing a comprehensive BrIM exchange specification, IFC Bridge Design to Construction Information Exchange (U.S.), to support implementation by software vendors. View and download the BrIM exchange specification.


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