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COST 345
Procedures Required for Assessing Highway Structures

COST 345 Image

Chairman : Dr. Ken Brady (UK)
Transport Research Laboratory
Fax: +44 1344 770648
E-mail: (email removed)

Scientific secretary: Mr. Carle Magnus
European Commission
Directorate General for Energy and Transport
Fax: +32 2 296 37 65
Email: (email removed)


3 years, to April 2002.


16 COST Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.


The main objective of COST 345 is to identify the procedures and documentation required to inspect and assess the condition of in-service highway structures, for example bridges, earth retaining walls, tunnels and culverts. The Action will also:

  • define the requirements for future research work,
  • provide information on the stock of highway structures - this can be used as input to budgetary plans for maintenance works and operating cost models and also for establishing recommendations for construction options, and
  • identify those structures not amenable to simple numerical analysis.


  • Development of Highway Structures Database
  • Assessment of Highway Structures Database
  • Determination of Future European Requirements
  • Specification of Procedures
  • Development of Budgetary Planning Guidelines
  • Development of Construction Guidelines
  • Generation of Final Report


Bridges, earth retaining walls, tunnels, culverts and the like make up a substantial proportion of the fixed assets of the land based transportation infrastructure, such as the Trans-European Network (TERN). The stock of such structures has been accumulating in developed countries over the years: some in-service structures on the highway network predate the 20th century and a number of masonry arch bridges date back to Roman times.

Whilst considerable effort has been put into the development of new standards and codes for the design of new structures, comparatively little has been done on the development of documents covering the assessment of existing structures. This Action aims to address that inbalance. In the absence of adequate documentation for inspection and assessment there will be a natural tendency to assess stability using the rules given in extant documents which cover the design of new structures.

But such an approach may be inapplicable and in many cases is likely to underestimate the inherent stability of a wide range of structures. In some cases it may lead to the unnecessary replacement or strengthening of existing structures with all the attendant costs of traffic delays. On the other hand, a reliable system of inspection, assessment and maintenance is required to ensure the safety of the public at large. What is required, therefore, is a system of assessment within which longevity and structural condition are qualitatively or quantitatively balanced against the factors of safety specified in current design standards. This Action aims to identify what the features of such a system should be and what is required for it to be established.

Benefits to different users

In European terms, the development and application of reliable inspection, assessment and maintenance procedures to the highway network in Europe would ensure the continued high performance of the network and, potentially, could save billions of ECU's in construction, maintenance and traffic delay costs.

The end-users of the results of this Action include International, National and Local Government highway organisations and agencies, construction companies and the technical and scientific world. At the International and National levels, the data collected as part of this study could influence matters of policy regarding safety and the administration and operation of highways. It will also be of interest to different parts of the institutions for decision making in the areas of transport policy, legislation, and research and development.

At a regional or local level, engineers charged with the upkeep of a section of highway infrastructure would benefit from the availability of information on methods of inspection, assessment and analysis, and from improved whole life cost models: together these would improve the efficiency of operations, provide more reliable predictions of expenditure, and assist in the planning and execution of inspection and maintenance works. Such information would also be of benefit to road operators and contractors concerned with maintenance works.

Related activities

Image Last Updated: 17-05-2001

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