The United States’ 590,000 bridges are 44 years old on average. An estimate of $5B will be spent annually repairing or replacing just the bridge decks alone.
The landscape of infrastructure preservation is no longer static. As technology has grown and contributed to accurate data and benchmarking in other industries, the majority of techniques and tools used for bridge preservation and inspection has stayed subjective. Subjective testing can vary based on the eyes and ears of the individual inspector. No superman “X ray vision” has been found to apply to such intricate and massive structures…. until now.
A new category of offerings in the form of NDT (Nondestructive Testing), are being brought to the hands of engineering firms tasked with keeping our infrastructure safe, and keeping the DOT’s “accurately knowledgeable”. Currently, 24 states are requesting it in some bids. NDT provides the engineering firms and DOT data in a form that they never had access to prior. They are now able to see into not only the steel, but the concrete of structures. They can accomplish these inspections without lane closures. By utilizing this technology ongoing they will be able to better benchmark changes in the structures over time and better plan repairs, improvements and budgets. At this point, DOT’s are unsure of how to use this information and mandate it in bids. But that is all changing…and quickly.
So the challenge is, how do these engineering firms transition to work NDT into their offerings? How do they include them in the bidding and pricing? Most importantly, how do they ensure they do not lose bids going forward by not including some form of NDT technology???
PennDOT’s focus, for example, is to save money by extending service life, thus deferring the need for major rehabilitation of bridges. In the past five years, they have invested approximately $670M in proactive measures on over 2,200 bridges. Bridge Preservation is now becoming a new division of many of the large engineering firms that are preparing for this change and don’t want to lose bids to their competitors.
Illinois DOT released a bid for this coming week that requires NDT on their cable inspections for the Clinton Gateway Bridge.
The firms that adopt to the NDT technologies will not only win the bids, but incur less safety exposure while offering more accurate condition assessment of these inspections. Road closures and delays to the traveling public will be minimized if not done away with. A lengthened life cycle and more accurate reporting will now be accessible. As DOT’s across the country embrace these changes, engineering firms will want to be well versed in using these tools to win bids and provide the highest level of data to their clients.
Infrastructure Preservation Corporation is a professional services nondestructive testing and robotic engineering company that conducts nondestructive inspections on worldwide infrastructure. IPC produces condition assessment reports by incorporating modern technology and robotics to provide asset owners with the most advanced data on their assets available to date, typically at a lower cost.
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