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The Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) March 21, 2006, final report, Audit of Oversight of Load Ratings and Postings on Structurally Deficient Bridges on the National Highway System, was distributed to all division offices and Federal Lands Highway on March 22, 2006. The FHWA's May 22, 2006, response memorandum concurred with the audit's two recommendations as well as the additional comment to include agency oversight of bridge load ratings and postings on structurally deficient NHS bridges as an element of FHWA's next unit risk assessment.
The FHWA convened a working group to develop an action plan to address the audit recommendations. Because the OIG review identified significant problems in load ratings and postings, your assistance is now requested in implementing the action items.
First, as part of the 2007 risk assessment cycle, field offices are to address bridge load rating and posting practices in their next individual program risk assessment. The second action item depends on the outcome of the risk assessment. If the risk is evaluated high, field offices should conduct a focused in-depth review of bridge load rating and posting practices within 1 year as a response strategy. If the risk associated with bridge load ratings and postings is not evaluated high, a focused in-depth review does not have to be completed within 1 year; however a focused in-depth review should be accomplished within the next 3 years as a supplement to the annual review of the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) compliance. Upon completion of the initial in-depth review, field offices should continue to monitor the bridge load rating and posting program areas during annual reviews of the NBIS compliance, annually reassess the risk, and implement response strategies if warranted by the risk assessment.
Several tools have been developed to assist field offices in conducting bridge load rating and posting risk assessments and NBIS annual compliance reviews, as well as identifying inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the bridge inspection program and associated data. These tools are summarized as follows:
In addition, a new NHI training course on load and resistance factor rating (LRFR) of bridges is under development.
Non–compliance with load rating and posting provisions of the NBIS (23 CFR 650) may directly jeopardize public safety and therefore is of the utmost concern of the FHWA. The FHWA memorandum issued on May 14, 1985, (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/nbis/051485.cfm) established a policy to suspend Federal–aid for States or local jurisdictions with confirmed substantial NBIS deficiencies. The policy remains in effect today. States or local jurisdictions may avoid suspension of Federal-aid if proactive steps to rectify deficiencies are made.
The Office of Bridge Technology and the Resource Center are available to provide assistance associated with bridge load ratings and postings in the areas of policy, risk assessments, NBIS reviews, LRFR, and program reviews.
Please feel free to contact Tom Everett (202) 366-4675 (email@example.com), Gary Moss (202) 366-4654 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Everett Matias (202) 366-6712 (email@example.com) if any further questions arise.
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