LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor has developed a tool that displays information about bridges that inspectors can use to improve their safety.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1DJ9NyV ) that associate professor Zhigang Shen created a "big data tool" that allows inspectors to label the condition of a bridge's individual elements with a color coding system. When you click on any of the elements, a photo of the problems or damage can be seen.

The program, which is funded by a Nebraska Department of Roads grant, is based on the facility management programs used to monitor heating and cooling systems.

Shen, who is a former construction manager with a degree in computer science, was inspired to create the tool after a close call with a collapsed bridge. In 2007, he moved from Minnesota to Nebraska and crossed the Interstate 35 bridge a week before it collapsed.

"If I had changed my schedule to move a week later, I may have been a victim," Shen said. After the experience, he began to research bridge maintenance with associate professor of construction management at the university.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, about 90 percent of the bridges in the United States are aging to the point of deficiency.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com