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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > October 2006 > New Training for Underwater Bridge Inspection
October 2006Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-007

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New Training for Underwater Bridge Inspection

Inspection of the underwater portions of the Nation's bridges is the focus of a new 3-day course now available from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National Highway Institute (NHI). Using real-life examples, Underwater Bridge Inspection (Course No. FHWA-NHI-130091) offers an overview of diving operations. The course provides bridge inspection training that is now required by the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) for all divers conducting underwater inspections. "Satisfactory completion of this course will fulfill the NBIS requirement for an underwater bridge inspection diver, " says Gary Moss of FHWA. Bridge inspection program managers, structural engineers, and non-diving bridge inspectors from the public and private sectors will also benefit from the course.

The pilot course was held in Reno, Nevada, from June 13-15, 2006. The 29 participants included representatives from the Nevada, California, Washington State, and Idaho departments of transportation, as well as from engineering firms, commercial diving firms in the United States and Canada, and the U.S. Navy. "There was a great deal of interest in the course, with attendees ranging from beginners to individuals with 20 to 25 years experience, " says Dave Severns of the Nevada Department of Transportation. "The course was very well received. Most students indicated on evaluation surveys that they were quite satisfied with the training."

In this Underwater Bridge Inspection course exercise, participants try to identify objects and their defects.
In this Underwater Bridge Inspection course exercise, participants try to identify objects and their defects.

Course topics include methods of underwater inspection, underwater material deterioration mechanisms and inspection techniques, scour inspection techniques, and underwater National Bridge Inventory (NBI) and element level rating. Upon completion of the course, participants will have the ability to:

  • Explain the need for and benefits of inspecting the underwater portions of bridge structures.
  • Describe typical underwater defects and deterioration, and identify conditions contributing to rates of deterioration.
  • Identify the types of inspection equipment available and the advantages and limitations of each.
  • Identify procedures for planning and performing thorough and safe underwater bridge inspections.
  • Assign NBI and element level ratings for underwater components in accordance with the NBIS and agency requirements.

At the conclusion of the course, a final exam will be administered.

The course fee is $400 per participant. The minimum class size is 20, with a maximum of 30. To host this course, visit the NHI Web site ( and complete the "On-Site Course Request" form (FHWA Form 1530). Course scheduling is subject to instructor availability.

For information on course content, contact Gary Moss at FHWA, 202-366-4654 (email: For more information on scheduling the course, contact the NHI Training Coordinator at 703-235-0534 (email:

Bridge Inspection Resources

Learn more about bridge inspection with the following NHI courses.

Bridge Inspection Refresher Training (Course No. FHWA-NHI-130053)

November 7-9, 2006, Lansing, MI

December 5-7, 2006, Jefferson City, MO

This course aims to refresh the skills of practicing bridge inspectors. Core course topics include inspector qualifications and duties, record keeping and documentation, structure inventory and appraisal overview, National Bridge Inventory standard component ratings, element level ratings, and safety. The course also features case studies and a virtual bridge inspection classroom exercise.

Engineering Concepts for Bridge Inspectors (Course No. FHWA-NHI-130054)

The 5-day course aims to familiarize bridge inspectors with basic concepts in bridge engineering. The target audience is Federal, State, and local technicians, inspectors, and engineers with basic experience relating to highway bridges. Individuals completing this course could serve on a bridge inspection team, but would require additional experience and training to qualify as team leaders.

Safety Inspection of In-Service Bridges (Course No. FHWA-NHI-130055)

December 4-15, 2006, Springfield, IL

December 4-15, 2006, Helena, MT

January 8-19, 2007, Salt Lake City, UT

January 29-February 9, 2007, Salem, OR

February 5-16, 2007, Austin, TX

March 12-23, 2007, Shoreview, MN

Using the Bridge Inspector's Reference Manual, the course will highlight issues related to safety inspection of in-service highway bridges. A background in bridge engineering or completion of the NHI course, "Engineering Concepts for Bridge Inspectors, " is strongly recommended for all participants. Participants will be required to complete midterm and final examinations based on course content. Satisfactory completion of this course will fulfill the training requirements of the National Bridge Inspection Standards for a comprehensive training course.

To host these courses, visit and submit a host request form (FHWA Form 1530), or contact the NHI Training Coordinator at 703-235-0534 (email: For additional information on the courses, contact Thomas Everett at FHWA, 202-366-4675 (email:, or Gary Moss at FHWA, 202-366-4654 (email:

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Updated: 02/20/2015

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