Modeling of post-construction
failure factors of bridges
Sanjay Sampat Wakchaure and Kumar Neeraj Jha
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, India
Purpose – The failure of a bridge is a complex phenomenon due to the involvement of a large number
of factors. Bridge failure cannot be attributed to a single cause due to the intricacies involved in the
relationship among the factors causing failure. The aim of this paper is to identify the various factors
causing bridge failure and show an interdependence/relationship among them.
Design/methodology/approach – Interpretive structural modeling (ISM), which is a tool of
structural analysis for interactive learning, has been used to develop a hierarchical structure of the
phenomenon of bridge failure showing the interrelationship of the causative factors. Impact Matrix
Cross Reference Multiplication Applied to a Classification (MICMAC) tool has been used to quantify
and classify the factors for bridge failure on the basis of their influence and dependence.
Findings – In total, 14 factors, which may contribute to the failure of a bridge, have been identified
through the literature survey and interaction with bridge experts. Even though all the 14 factors are
important, the authors have found that the environmental factor has the maximum influence, while the
age factor is the most dependent of all factors.
Research limitations/implications – The proposed research utilizes the ISM and MICMAC tools
and thus has all the limitations of structural modeling. The application of structural equation
modeling in the civil engineering field is limited, but it is hoped that a similar approach can be applied
in other areas of engineering.
Originality/value – The factors causing bridge failure have been identified and hierarchical
interdependence model has been arrived at by using ISM. On the basis of MICMAC analysis, the
factors have also been classified into three categories, namely, influent, autonomous and dependent.
The study reaffirms the importance of all factors in the overall performance of a bridge.
Keywords Bridges, Construction engineering, Structural analysis, Bridge management,
Maintenance planning, Causes of failure, ISM, MICMAC
Paper type Research paper
Infrastructure is one of the key indicators of a nation’s economic strength and
prosperity and thereby the living standards of its population. Among the
infrastructural facilities, transportation can be considered the backbone of an
economy, and hence its role cannot be overemphasized. Out of land, water and air, land
is predominantly used for the transportation of men and materials through railways
and roads. India has one of the largest road and rail networks in the world, with the
total road length currently spanning about 3.383 million kilometers
(www.morth.nic.in), and rail length, 64,099 kilometers (www.indianrailways.gov.in).
Thus, roads and railways run across the length and breadth of the country negotiating
varied terrains and environmental conditions.
Bridges form a vital link in any road/rail network. A bridge is a structure of more
than six meters in length and is meant for carrying vehicular traffic across rivers,
canals, viaducts, structures for interchanges including underpasses and flyovers
across the highways/railways, aqueducts/siphon (Indian Road Congress (IRC), 2000).
As per the Basic Road Statistics of India, 1999-2002 (2004) there are more than
92,000 bridges and over 1.1 million culverts of different types along Indian roads. Out
of the 92,000 bridges, about 14,500 bridges are on the National Highways. Out of these,
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Journal of Advances in Management
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2011
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