Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Chair

Mark D. Bowman

Committee Member 1

Amit H. Varma

Committee Member 2

Santiago Pujol

Committee Member 3

Maria C. Santagata


The inspection and evaluation of bridges is critical to ensure their safety and better serve the citizens of the nation. Part of this evaluation includes bridge load rating. Bridge load rating, which is a measure of the safe load capacity of the bridge, is typically conducted by using critical information that is available on the bridge plans. For existing, poorly-documented bridges the load rating process becomes challenging to complete because of the missing bridge information. Currently, a general prescribed methodology for load rating such bridges is not available. Consequently, there is a need for a standardized methodology to load rate and evaluate bridges that do not have plans. A general procedure for load rating bridges that do not have plans was developed and it was concluded that it requires four critical parts. These parts are bridge characterization, bridge database, field survey and inspection, and bridge load rating. The proposed procedure was then evaluated on two bridges in Indiana that do not have plans as a proof of concept. As a result, it was concluded that load rating of bridges without plans can be completed using the general procedure. Finally, this research study delivers a user-friendly flowchart describing the methodology for load rating bridges without plans.