The infrastructure of constructed facilities for the transportation and housing of people, goods and services, which was largely expanded in the period between 1950 and the early 1970s, is now reaching a critical age with increasing signs of deterioration and reduced functionality. Deficiencies in the existing bridge inventory, for example, range from those related to wear, environmental deterioration and aging of structural components, to increased traffic demands and changing patterns; and from insufficient detailing at the time of construction/original design, to the use of substandard materials in initial construction, to inadequate maintenance and rehabilitation measures taken through the life of the structure. These deficiencies are not limited to bridge and other transportation-related structures alone, but are endemic to the built environment, ranging from residential housing and industrial/commercial structures to pipelines used for the distribution of water and sewage. This deterioration and the inability to provide the required services have a tremendous impact on society in terms of socio-economic losses resulting from delays, accidents and irregularity in supply.
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