Load rating of bridges before 1994 was primarily conducted by Load Factor Rating (LFR). In 1994, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) developed and encouraged the use of a probabilistic-based method titled Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) for carrying out bridge design. A new methodology consistent with LRFD was also developed and adopted for conducting load rating. Thus, a new Load and Resistance Factor Rating (LRFR) was adopted by AASHTO in 2001 for load rating. Today, the bridges that were designed by the old LFD methodology are rated by both LFR and LRFR. Continued development suggests that load rating in future will be based only on LRFR, therefore LRFR is the recommended method for carrying out load rating of bridges even if they were designed by LFD. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) encountered some LFD designed bridges which were adequate by LFR methodology (i.e., produced a rating factor of more than 1.0) but inadequate for LRFR. The load ratings were carried out using AASHTOWare Bridge Rating (BrR) software. These bridges belonged to five different limit states: (1) lateral torsional buckling, (2) changes in cross-section along the member length, (3) tight stringer spacings, (4) girder end shear and (5) moment over continuous piers. This research study explores the inherent differences between LFR and LRFR to clarify some of the inconsistencies in the rating values. Load ratings for select bridges were carried out using both AASHTOWare BrR and a separate analysis using Mathcad and structural analysis results from SAP2000 for comparison purposes. Finally, the study also recommends some modifications in the BrR software input data that can be adopted for each of the above-mentioned limit states to resolve inconsistencies found between LFR and LRFR rating values.

Report Number



load rating, LRFR, AASHTOWare BrR, lateral torsional buckling, moment gradient, tight stringer spacings, LL distribution factor

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

Date of this Version


SPR-4429 Technical Summary.pdf (689 kB)
Technical Summary