In a bid to improve the condition of bridges in India, Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping has inaugurated Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) in the national capital. This organisation will make an inventory of bridges and rate their structural conditions. This will allow timely repair with the rehabilitation work carried out on the basis of criticality of the structure.
The nation was gripped with shock when earlier this year a colonial-era bridge collapsed in the Mumbai-Goa highway. This was despite the fact that there was a new bridge parallel to the old one. The authorities had earlier cleared the bridge in May but was in line to be demolished in December. Around that time, a flyover collapsed in Kolkata killing many.
“A lack of any database on bridges in the country has led to a situation where we are neither clear about the exact number and location of nor have we been able to maintain this asset in proper working condition. Poor condition of bridges hampers efficient transport and has also led to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions. IBMS aims to fill this gap by preparing a database of all bridges in the country and detailing their structural condition so that timely action can be taken to repair the structures or build new ones in their place.”
During inventory creation each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on a National Highway, State Highway or is a district road. the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS and based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number.
They will also look into facts like Engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length and width of carriage way are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure. These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number.
The bridges will also be assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity.IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work. The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.