A systematic approach is proposed for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of existing bridge design codes based on expected lifecycle cost. In the life cycle cost formulation, costs of construction, damage cost, road user cost, as well as discount cost over the design life of the bridge are considered. The optimal performance is selected on the basis of minimum life cycle cost. The performance of a typical two-span bridge designed according to a current code provision for different earthquake ground motion levels is predicted and optimal target performance is selected based on life cycle cost with different assumptions of user cost. It is demonstrated that life cycle cost should be considered in the design phase of new or retrofitted structures and the target performance significantly depends on the expected average daily traffic using the road.