Short Haul Vehicle bridge evaluation deadline only one year away

Posted in: Bridges, Highways


shv_bodyWith new technology building smaller freight trucks capable of carrying heavier loads, it’s essential for roads and bridges to withstand more concentrated amounts of pressure. This is the case with Specialized Hauling Vehicles, also known as Short Haul Vehicles.

Introduced at the turn of the millennium, SHVs are closely-spaced, multi-axle, single-unit trucks. You see these every day – construction vehicles, dump trucks and solid waste trucks are all types of SHVs that have made short-distance hauls easier. However, concentrating heavy loads onto a smaller vehicle sometimes creates over-stress situations on roadway infrastructure, particularly on bridges.

In 2013, the Federal Highway Administration released a statement requiring all state Departments of Transportation to re-evaluate their bridges in order to determine if they are safe for SHVs. This is to be done in two parts:

  1. Bridges shorter than 200 feet should be re-evaluated for SHV use before December 31, 2017
  2. Bridges longer than 200 feet should be re-evaluated for SHV use before December 31, 2022

Evaluating every bridge in the state is time-consuming and costly. To combat this problem, the FHWA created a system that allows states to quickly determine which bridges need to be re-evaluated. Each bridge should already have an AASHTO Notional Rating Load rating factor. State DOTs can filter out the bridge structures that have an AASHTO NRL greater than or equal to 1.0 either at the inventory rating level or operating rating level. Any structure with an NRL below 1.0 needs to be evaluated for SVHs.

For example, here in Wisconsin, WisDOT owns 5,242 bridges while 8,817 bridges are owned by local agencies. After checking each bridge’s AASHTO NRL rating, only 259 state-owned bridges and 1,838 locally-owned bridges require additional evaluation.

sign_bodyAt this moment, the only requirement is that bridge owners post the maximum load bearing weight at the bridge to alert SHV drivers whether the bridge is safe to cross. The ultimate goal of this evaluation inventory is to make all bridges safer and more structurally sound for these new, more compact vehicles. Once a bridge is ready to be replaced or rehabilitated, the state bridge owner will include the new SHV NRL load rating specifications in their designs.

How far along are you with the bridge evaluation process in your state? If you’re behind and need an extra hand, Mead & Hunt employs a number of licensed structural engineers and licensed professional engineers who are certified NBIS bridge inspectors. Let us know how we can assist you in meeting this important FHWA deadline.


Darrell Berry

About the Author

Darrell Berry, PE, SE, F.ASCE-Life, is senior manager with more than 45 years of project management and consulting engineering experience. He is skilled in developing and delivering successful projects within local, state and federal policies and procedures. Darrell’s background includes project management of transportation and special projects, and structural designs and inspections for highway and railroad bridges. He is well-known for his value engineering team leadership and facilitation skills, to improve the value of projects while maintaining functions, typically at a lower cost to the owner.

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