National Bridge Inspection Standards
The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) are the standards established over the safety inspections of highway bridges on public roads throughout the United States. The U.S. Congress originally required the Secretary of Transportation to establish these standards in 1968. The original NBIS was published in 1971, creating our Nation's first nationally coordinated bridge inspection program.
Periodic and thorough inspections of our Nation's bridges are necessary to maintain safe bridge operation and prevent structural and functional failures. In addition, data on the condition and operation of our Nation's bridges is necessary for bridge owners to make informed investment decisions as part of an asset management program. Congress declared in MAP-21 (Public Law 112-141, 126 Stat. 405) that it is in the vital interest of the United States to inventory, inspect, and improve the condition of the Nation's highway bridges.
Updates to the standards have been made over the years, and currently we are transitioning to another update in 2022. These updates recognize technological advancements, research results, and experience in administering the inspection program. The 2004 NBIS are being superseded by the 2022 NBIS according to the implementation schedule required in the final rule. The two versions can be accessed here: