Abstract For managing highway bridges, stakeholders require efficient and practical decision making techniques. In a context of limited bridge management budget, it is crucial to determine the most effective breakdown of financial resources over the different structures of a bridge network. Bridge management systems (BMSs) have been developed for such a purpose. However, they generally rely on an individual approach. The influence of the position of bridges in the transportation network, the consequences of inadequate service for the network users, due to maintenance actions or bridge failure, are not taken into consideration. Therefore, maintenance strategies obtained with current BMSs do not necessarily lead to an optimal level of service (LOS) of the bridge network for the users of the transportation network. Besides, the assessment of the structural performance of highway bridges usually requires the access to the geometrical and mechanical properties of its components. Such information might not be available for all structures in a bridge network for which managers try to schedule and prioritize maintenance strategies. On the contrary, visual inspections are performed regularly and information is generally available for all structures of the bridge network. The objective of this paper is threefold (i) propose an advanced network-level bridge management system considering the position of each bridge in the transportation network, (ii) use information obtained at visual inspections to assess the performance of bridges, and (iii) compare optimal maintenance strategies, obtained with a genetic algorithm, when considering interests of users and bridge owner either separately as conflicting criteria, or simultaneously as a common interest for the whole community. In each case, safety and serviceability aspects are taken into account in the model when determining optimal strategies. The theoretical and numerical developments are applied on a French bridge network.