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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-033
Date: April 2001

Highway Bridge Inspection: State-of-the-Practice Survey

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The congressionally mandated National Bridge Inspection program requires States to periodically inventory, inspect, and rate all highway bridges on public roads. The National Bridge Inspection Standards, implemented in 1971, prescribe minimum requirements for the inspection of highway bridges in the United States. Visual Inspection is the primary tool used to perform these inspections.

A survey was conducted to help determine current policies and practices that may affect the accuracy and reliability of Visual Inspection. The survey had three main objectives. The first objective was to compile a state-of-the-practice report for bridge inspection, particularly as it pertains to Visual Inspection. The second objective was to gather information on bridge inspection management to study how inspection management may influence the reliability of inspections. The final objective was to gather data about the current use of nondestructive evaluation technologies and to identify current and future research needs.

Participants included State departments of transportation, as well as some local-level departments of transportation (the 99 Iowa counties) and select bridge inspection contractors. Responses were received from 42 State departments of transportation, 72 Iowa county departments of transportation, and 6 inspection contractors. The combined response rate for the three target groups was 72 percent.

Results from the questionnaires are presented in a question-by-question format. The motivation behind each question and the response percentages for each question start the discussion, followed by the results obtained. Included within each question are comments that will highlight the results.

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