Statistical Analysis of Pavement Profiler Data to Evaluate the Bump at the End of the Bridge

Monday, June 14, 2021 - 15:45

The roughness experienced at bridge approaches and departures, generally termed the bump at the end of the bridge (BEB), has been identified as one of the most prominent issues in the transportation industry. The BEB is usually detected qualitatively based on road user feedback, with maintenance strategies subsequently implemented to improve ride quality. The BEB and road roughness can cause many issues beyond user discomfort, including driving safety concerns, vehicle damage, increased maintenance requirements for both automobiles and bridge infrastructure, and decreased bridge service life. The BEB is a complex issue caused by multiple interactive factors. Several research efforts have focused on identifying factors contributing to the BEB problem and identifying suitable remedial measures; however, quantitative approaches should be employed to establish standardized "ride quality indices" that can be used among engineers to evaluate the condition of a particular bridge approach and subsequently evaluate the need for maintenance and rehabilitation efforts. Researchers explored potential methods, such as the International Roughness Index and rolling straightedge measurements, to quantify the roughness at bridge approaches and analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of each. The surface profiles for a sample of 66 bridges across the United States were evaluated using multiple segment lengths and filters in ProVAL (The Transtec Group 2015) to statistically analyze the effects of different site and bridge structure characteristics on the magnitude and roughness of the BEB. A segment length of 0.31 m (1 ft) was determined the most appropriate for bridge approach analyses. This report presents findings from this study and makes inferences regarding what factors may have the most significant effect on the BEB problem. This report is available from the US Federal Highway Administration web site at


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