Our nation's bridges are growing older. Most of the nation's bridge spans have an average age of 39 years. Ratings for bridge qualityare declining quickly, a big threat to driving safety.
Bridge surveys are straightforward. Every bridge in the United States should undergo an inspection every other year, but bridge inspections are falling behind.
While the necessity for new bridges increases is sorely needed, bridge inspectors must handle the eventual repairs of our current bridge structures first.
One of the most serious issues with inspecting bridges is gaining access to the bridge in a safe manner. The the snooper heavy duty vehicle is designed to lift inspection crews to difficult points of complex bridge structures. But the snooper truck isn't the only viable equipment equipment around.
Recent breakthroughs in bridge technology may help close the gap in coming years to make inspecting bridges less hazardous, cheaper and more comprehensive than ever before.
Bridges that would never be inspected before except by using unsafe lane closures or expensive personnel can now go through inspection in days instead of weeks. This new technology permits inspectors to inspect bridges while not disturbing the environment or endangering nesting wildlife. As the expense of bridge inspections come down and advanced equipment becomes easier to find, the nation's bridge structures will get the repairs they need to hold up on into the future.