FHWA Issues Summary of Critical Findings Reviews for National Bridge Inspection Program

AASHTO Journal, 3 February 2012

A recently released report from the Federal Highway Administration summarizes good bridge inspection practices and areas for improvement based on site visits to 12 states.During Summer 2011, FHWA conducted a focused review of the current state of highway bridge inspection practices for identifying and following up on critical findings.

The requirement for highway bridge owners to address critical findings is established in the National Bridge Inspection Standards. The standards require that owners must “assure that critical findings are addressed in a timely manner” and they must “notify the FHWA of the actions taken to resolve or monitor critical findings.”

NBIS defines a critical finding as “a structural or safety related deficiency that requires immediate follow-up inspection or action.” This area of the bridge inspection program addresses the most serious safety-related conditions on the nation’s bridges.

Practices for addressing critical findings can be improved with enhanced training and more robust and consistent national policies, according to the report. The document is published to guide federal policy development as well as to educate inspectors and inspection program managers who want to develop or improve their own procedures.

The 24-page report is available at bit.ly/FHWAbridge24.

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