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DOT LogoMemorandum
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Subject: ACTION: Unknown Foundations Summit November 15-16, 2005
Date: August 12, 2005
From: /S/ Original signed by
King W. Gee
Associate Administrator for Infrastructure
In Reply Refer to: HIBT-20
To: Associate Administrator for RD&T
Directors of Field Services
Resource Center Director and Operations Managers
Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be sponsoring an Unknown Foundations Summit to be held in Lakewood, Colorado, at the Sheraton Hotel on November 15-16, 2005. The summit will bring together individuals with in-depth knowledge, experience, and interest in identifying appropriate technologies for characterizing unknown bridge foundations, as well as strategies for managing bridges with unknown foundations and all associated risks.

We believe that the subject of Unknown Foundations is a timely and important topic of interest to bridge owners as Federal, State, and local transportation agencies have identified more than 86,000 bridges over waterways as having unknown foundations. The summit will be of interest to bridge owners who are involved in the management of bridges with unknown foundations, and to their interdisciplinary personnel (structural, hydraulics, geotechnical and maintenance engineers and technicians) who have applied various methods for characterizing unknown bridge foundations. Also, it will be of interest to technology practitioners, researchers, consultants, vendors of nondestructive evaluation methods, and FHWA personnel responsible for facilitating the technology transfer and development of guidelines.

The objectives of the Unknown Foundations Summit are to:

  1. Provide a forum for open discussion/communication on the state-of-the-art techniques and current practices available to manage bridges with unknown foundations.

  2. Determine capability, reliability and probable cost of state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice nondestructive methods for characterizing the type, size, depth, configuration, materials, and structural condition of unknown bridge foundation components.

  3. Develop guidance and management strategies based on the outcome of this meeting for bridge owners. (A council will be selected to help develop guidelines at a later date.)

The summit has been structured in three sessions. Session 1 will include presentations by practitioners and bridge owners that have active programs for determining foundation characteristics. Session 2 will be a forum for bridge owners to discuss other strategies they have adopted for dealing with risk and the safety of the traveling public as they pertain to unknown bridge foundations. Session 3 will be a panel session to discuss what technologies and strategies should be promoted or considered for further evaluation. A preliminary program, which includes presentations under these sessions, is attached. We would welcome participants interested in presenting their strategies to deal with unknown bridge foundations in session 2. Please advise one of the summit contacts indicated below if you have participants that you would recommend for this session.

Individuals interested in attending the Unknown Foundations Summit should register at the following website: There is no registration fee for attending this summit. Also, this Web site has a link to the hotel reservations site at the Sheraton, which was developed for the summit, or reservations could be made by calling the hotel at (303) 987-2000. Please refer to the group name "FHWA Unknown Foundations Summit" if making reservations by telephone. The hotel rate is $112 plus tax, including breakfast. Deadline for reservations is October 28, 2005.

Please encourage your staff (structural, hydraulics, and geotechnical engineers) and their corresponding bridge owner counterparts (structural, hydraulics, geotechnical, bridge inspection/maintenance engineers and technicians) to attend the summit.

For more information about the summit, please do not hesitate to contact Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz at (202) 366-4604, Cynthia Nurmi at (404) 562-3908, or Khamis Haramy at (720) 963-3521.


Updated: 04/07/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration