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In Service Bridge Inspection (NBIS): Promoting Safety, Preventing Disaster

October 15th, 2019 by Eric Patterson

As mandated by the Federal Highway Administration, government entities are required to have their in-service bridges, those that are currently travelled on by the public, inspected every 24 months to keep motorists and pedestrians safe from possible structural wear and tear. That’s where I come in, as a trained and certified in-service bridge inspector by the National Highway Institute (NHI), I travel to structures across North Carolina to assess them for safety hazards. In most cases, structures are determined to be hazard-free and safe after thorough inspection. However, in the rare case that a structure may be unsafe, I’m able to take immediate action by communicating the deficiency with the appropriate agencies and owners to begin the process of making the structure safe.

One of my most memorable recent projects that my team and I had to take extensive action on was in early 2018 when we travelled to McDowell County in the mountains of North Carolina. We were tasked with inspecting a four-span structure (Structure No. 580108) over North Fork Catawba River. This structure was on a busy road near a landscaping nursery which meant truck traffic was higher than most mountain roads. The bridge was previously rated in a high fair condition, so we weren’t expecting any deficiencies. However, when we arrived we tested the structure’s base with a common inspection practice: tapping our hammers at the support piles. We immediately uncovered a significant number of holes within the supports. We called the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to get the bridge closed immediately.

I find my everyday work extremely rewarding because of times like this. Unaddressed, these deficiencies would’ve led to extensive structural damage, ultimately becoming a hazard to the traveling public. Having been made aware of the defects, the NCDOT was able to repair the bridge instead of needing to fully replace it, which was a significant cost savings. We never hope to find deficiencies when inspecting in-service bridges, but when we do, the appropriate action is always taken to keep our North Carolina and neighboring residents safe. I invite you to check out some of the other great past projects my team has tackled on our Expertise page.

Posted in the categories All, Featured Posts, Construction Services.