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Managing Our Nations Ageing Bridges

FIU Bridge collapse

I don’t think that the condition of our nations infrastructure and the need to fix it is a secret. You can bet that by the time our representatives in congress are in agreement that it is most likely well overdue. In order to fix our ageing infrastructure it is important to be able to properly assess what needs to be fixed and how to properly budget for those repairs.  

Just throwing more money at a problem isn’t always the best solution. It is certainly the easiest scapegoat.  Providing funds to states in a form that allows those states to redirect those funds to their own purpose outside of what they were earmarked for and then wondering why our infrastructure is in the condition that it is in is government handiwork at its best.


Why is there a need to do a better job if you can just throw more money at a problem, more people, more man hours seems to be the infrastructure mantra on how to fix our infrastructure. There is a difference between fixing the infrastructure and investing in the advancement of infrastructure to the countries benefit. But when it comes to fixing the existing infrastructure, I don’t think more money is the issue.


True my impressions may be prejudiced given my position but I would challenge those responsible, those that receive the funds to better manage those funds through the utilization of  technology. Not in R&D but technologies that have been around for years that can peer through concrete and steel and help provide a real assessment of the infrastructure. Manual inspections have to stop. If there is a proven method that is better, that can provide more data for less money, fewer lane closures at a lower cost and most importantly with a much higher degree of safety for the inspectors and the traveling public than current inspection methods than those technologies need to be adopted, now.


Changing the 50 year old manual subjective inspections and mandating the use of technology and the delivery of usable  information that can not only  properly assess the current condition of various components of the infrastructure but provide enough information to the asset owners to be able to create the budgets for maintenance and repairs.  


Imagine a bridge collapse..well lets not imagine take the bridge collapse in  Genoa Italy. The lack of proper inspections or the use of advanced inspection caused the loss of 47 lives.  I think those families would prefer that proper inspections were conducted and I still never heard of Genoa than what ensued. 

See the New York Times article here ..Genoa Bridge Collapse

The management of our nations infrastructure is not in the government throwing another 500 trillion dollars at the problem. It is a matter of mandating proper inspections. Leaving it to business as usual and continuing to conduct inspections the same way that they have been conducted for a hundred years should make those empowered responsible if a tragedy should occur.  The responsibility is what is lacking.


This week, U.S. Representatives Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) and Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) introduced the Fixing America’s Bridges Act, which would help many municipalities in financial need to repair and replace structurally deficient local bridges.

If signed into law, the legislation would reestablish the federal Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation program, which would reward federal grant money to states for the repair or replacement of poor-condition bridges. The bill includes a set-aside to in order to provide certain communities with funding for locally owned bridges not included in the federal-aid highway system.

The bill also increases the federal cost-share for local bridges from 80% to 90% so communities can act quickly to make much-needed repairs to their deficient bridges.

“Having visited many of our local structurally deficient bridges, I know first-hand how big of an impact we can make by securing much-needed help for our communities,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said in a statement. “Our local engineers and communities are sending us a clear message they need help, and we can do that while making our infrastructure safer and supporting good paying American jobs.”

The congresswoman’s home state of Iowa is home to 5,067 structurally deficient bridges, which is more than any other state. That number makes up nearly 20% of all Iowan bridges, most of which are locally owned and do not receive the same federal funding that goes to bridges that are part of the federal highway system.

“Investing in safe and reliable infrastructure promotes economic growth and benefits our communities. This certainly includes America’s bridges,” Congressman Higgins said in a statement. “Our legislation expands federal infrastructure resources and prioritizes bridge replacement based on structural integrity. Reestablishing the Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program would greatly benefit many bridges in Louisiana, including the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge.”

The Fixing America’s Bridges Act is supported by several associations and municipal leaders.


SOURCE: Office of Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer”

Current inspection protocols for Cable Stay Bridge Inspections  is to conduct lane closures, place heavy equipment on the bridge and lift a man in a bucket truck to look at 1 side of the external wrapping of a cable. The HDPE wrapping isnt even the part of the cable that is holding up the structure.


With IPC’s CableScan® we are peering through the HDPE tendon to look at corrosion and section loss in the critical steel cable. This can be done with no lane closures or heavy equipment and is much safer for the inspectors and the traveling public.


One of the most important aspects of CableScan® is that future inspections using CableScan® can provide deterioration progression over time making it an excellent tool to help budget for maintenance and repairs.



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