Managing Bridges the Pontis Way
Pontis, the bridge management system of choice for a growing number
of States, is now better than ever with the release of Version 4.1.
The software can assist highway agencies in organizing their bridge
data and analyzing complex engineering and economic factors to make
smart decisions about maintaining, improving, and replacing structures.
It also allows States to look into the future and show those making
funding decisions how much needs to be invested in bridges to minimize
the long-term preservation costs and the consequences of different investment
levels on bridge condition and performance.
The Pontis system's database can store a complete bridge inventory
and bridge condition history, as well as project development and tracking
information. The new version of Pontis builds on the project planning
capabilities of Pontis 4.0 by integrating its database with two other
bridge software programs, Virtis and Opis. Virtis is a load rating program
that determines what loads a bridge can handle. Opis is a design program
that can perform analysis and specification checking on a variety of
bridge types, including steel, reinforced concrete, and prestressed
concrete. All three programs are part of the American Association of
State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) BRIDGEWare line
The new integration capabilities of Pontis, Virtis, and Opis mean that
BRIDGEWare users can maintain one bridge database, with the software
systems sharing their common bridge information automatically. "Sharing
the database information is a great asset. You do less work," says
José Aldayuz of AASHTO. "There's no lag in information updates.
This real time inventorying means that there's less possibility for
error," he adds.
Another benefit is that all three software products undergo the same
testing process. In addition, strategic plans for the products are being
aligned so that they are in sync. "We're looking at where we want
to go in the future with these products, in order to benefit States
the most," says Aldayuz. Possible updates being looked at include
adding Web-enabled transactions for data entry and more flexible reporting
|Pontist can assist highway agencies in organizing and analyzing
their bridge data.
The Montana Department of Transportation (DOT) uses Pontis to establish
performance standards and determine what additional structures projects
should be done on top of those already scheduled. "Pontis also
helps us to develop a list of proposed maintenance over time,"
says Paul Jensen of Montana DOT and a member of the AASHTO BRIDGEWare
Task Force. "It is helping us attain more consistent management
of our bridges. We're smoothing out the peaks and valleys." Montana
uses Pontis in conjunction with Virtis and Opis. "We have one central
location for all of our data now, whether we are rating structures or
doing appraisals. The programs can recalculate data for all of our needs,"
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) started using
Pontis in 1992. "At that time it was revolutionary. There was no
such thing as a bridge management system," says Michael Johnson
of Caltrans. With Caltrans responsible for 25,000 bridges in the State,
Pontis allows the agency to keep all the data in one database. "Pontis
forms the core of our database. We routinely use it for budgeting and
to assist with our 10-year preservation plan. It's the only real tool
we have to look into the future," says Johnson.
California also used Pontis to analyze six different designs that were
being considered for the replacement of a bridge over the Carquinez
Straits. Pontis calculated the expected annual maintenance costs for
each design. These maintenance cost comparisons were combined with initial
construction cost estimates to produce life-cycle cost estimates for
consideration in the final design selection. "This software has
practical applications that have yet to be discovered. You just have
to think a little outside the box and your bridge data can work for
you," says Johnson.
For more information on Pontis 4.1, Virtis, or Opis, contact José
Aldayuz at AASHTO, 202-624-3610 (fax: 202-624-5469; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can also contact the Pontis Support Center at 617-354-0167 (fax:
617-354-1542; email: email@example.com;
or visit the Virtis/Opis Support Web site at aashto.bakerprojects.com/virtis/.
To obtain a license for use of the software, contact Angelique Williams,
AASHTOWare Business Manager, at 202-624-5808 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
A Pontis User Training Meeting will be held September 27-28,
2002, in Phoenix, Arizona. The goal of the meeting is to help
highway agencies get more out of using Pontis and to explore the
future direction of the bridge management tool. The event is being
hosted by the City of Phoenix and the Arizona DOT. For more information,
contact Michael Ziegler of the City of Phoenix at 602-534-0966
Learn more about Pontis at a new National Highway Institute (NHI)
course, Pontis Bridge Management (Course No. 130080). FHWA's Office
of Asset Management coordinated the development of the course
in partnership with AASHTO. "It was very important that the
FHWA Resource Centers be a major player in the course development,"
says George Romack of FHWA. "They have done so by providing
financial support and allowing the bridge management engineer
in each center to serve as instructors for the course." The
pilot for the course was held in May, with the first two regular
sessions scheduled for July in Trenton, New Jersey, and Dover,
Delaware. A session is also being planned for Salt Lake City,
Utah, in August.
The 2 1/2-day course offers a hands-on learning experience. Participants
will use the Pontis database and the program's analysis tools
to develop goals, strategies, and projects. Participants will
also learn about performance measures and how the program's reporting
capabilities can be used to define goals and track results. The
software's project planning module will be extensively covered.
This module was completely redesigned for Pontis 4.0, as prior
versions of the program had contained only limited project details.
In addition to the 2 1/2-day training, a 2-hour session has been
developed to serve as an introduction to the attributes and benefits
of the Pontis program. This introduction is designed for State
and local government executives and upper- and mid-level professionals
responsible for an agency's bridge or highway program.
For more information about the NHI course, contact George Romack
at FHWA, 202-366-4606 (email: email@example.com).
To schedule the course, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at NHI, 703-235-0528
or the following Resource Center bridge management specialists:
- Tom Everett, Eastern Resource Center, Baltimore, Maryland
410-962-3743 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Bill Forrester, Western Resource Center, San Francisco, California
415-744-2614 (email: email@example.com).
- Mike Fraher, Southern Resource Center, Atlanta, Georgia
404-562-3695 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Larry O'Donnell, Midwest Resource Center, Olympia Fields,
Illinois, 708-283-3502 (email: email@example.com).
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Articles in this issue:
Managing Bridges the Pontis Way
FHWA Rolls Out New HERS-ST Software
A Positive Verdict for Precast Concrete
Wanted: A Smoother Ride