AASHTOWare Bridge: Three Components of Safety

When creating and building a bridge, the objective is to connect two points over a physical obstacle. Developments in technology have seen these creations progress from the simple – a fallen tree – to the complex – large bridges that cover long distances.  

To support the design and construction of bridges, bridge management software was first developed in the 1990s to support the development process under the NCHRP project. It was soon transferred to AASHTO for further support and development.  

Previously, CDOT utilized a bridge management software called Pontis. It is now referred to as AASHTOWare Bridge. Over the last 20 years, the AASHTOWare Bridge software has experienced significant improvements due to technological advancements, product innovations, and – more importantly - feedback from users. It is considered a software “Built by DOTs for DOTs.”


The AASHTOWare Bridge module contains three components:

Bridge Design (BrD)

The AASHTOWare Bridge Design analytical software enables users to perform bridge design using a state-of-the art tool for superstructure and substructure design. Bridge Rating and Bridge Design are fully-linked tools that work together to model and evaluate different bridge loads and design configurations.  It enables designers to build bridge models quickly and view them in both two and three dimensions.

Bridge Rating (BrR)

The AASHTOWare Bridge Rating analytical software enables users to perform bridge load ratings that are indispensable for determining maintenance needs, assuring public safety, scheduling retrofit or replacement elements, and for assessing overload permits. Bridge Rating provides highly accurate load rating techniques and calculations. An integrated database makes it easy to store, review and re-use rating inputs and outputs, and both 2-D and 3-D descriptions of bridge superstructures are supported.

Bridge Management (BrM)

The AASHTOWare Bridge Management analytical software not only provides the means to collect and store bridge inspection and inventory data for federal reporting purposes, it also allows users to track preservation and maintenance, perform deterioration modeling, and guide the decision-making process toward the most cost-effective choices for bridge preservation, rehabilitation and replacement.

CDOT currently uses all three components of the Bridge module. Mahmood Hasan, CDOT PE II, explained that he uses both Bridge Design and Rating modules to design and rate bridges. When a project is initiated, the program assists engineers in optimizing the number and size of girders, controlling costs, and determining the maximum safe load that a structure can carry.  Additionally, the CDOT permit office uses the ratings component to process overload permits on a daily basis. In a time where - according to T4 America blog - “the average age of bridges in the system is 44 years,” tracking safety ratings information is critical.

Two projects that have used the AASHTOWare Bridge Design and Rating modules are the SH 60 over S. Platte River in Region-4 and the Grand Avenue Bridge over I-70, Colorado River & RR in Region-3.

Crane installing bridge componentMichael Collins, CDOT PE II, indicated that the Bridge Management component is also used on a daily basis. It is the primary tool that is used to collect and manage bridge inspection data. The inspection data is used to report all aspects of bridges including minor structures (Culverts 4'-20'), structural inspections of signs signals, and high mast lights. It enables CDOT to compile data for reporting to the Federal Highway Authority (FHWA) to keep our bridge program in compliance with federal regulations. The Bridge Management software will also be used in the future for tunnels, noise walls, and retaining walls.

As you prepare to begin design and construction on that next bridge, we believe that you will find the AASHTOWare Bridge software to be a valuable asset.

For more information on the AASHTOWare Bridge software, please contact us at [email protected] or 303-757-9980.