There was a time in many places on the globe when the term “bridge rigger” was applied to the brave and steel-nerved men (Yes, just men…) who worked on bridges in some of the world’s most spectacular sites. 

Bridge riggers were renowned for their seemingly fearless demeanors and their willingness to dangle from sheer drops of steel and cable. The term was especially used in Australia as well as in other British Commonwealth nations.

Sydney Harbour Bridge riggers circa 1930-1932. Image credit: State Library of NSW.

In an article from Australian Geographic, author Angela Heathcote relates,

“Most Australians are familiar with Paul Hogan’s career pre-stardom. He was a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge which, in the 1970s, required nerves of steel. In Paul’s words, a rigger’s job was to “put up all the working platforms and make it as safe as possible for the painters” and “to rescue anyone who got into difficulty.”

And a headline from the New York Times in September 1909 reads:


Riggers on the New Manhattan See Their Comrade Whirl in the Air.

Team of bridge riggers high above the city Story Bridge Brisbane ca.1939 – State Library of Queensland

In the United States today, the term is rarely applied to individual workers any longer except for bridge rope riggers. For example,

“Caltrans bridge engineers have historically used heavy industrial rope and rigging techniques to gain access for bridge inspection. The rigging was done by either Caltrans’ Bay toll bridge paint crew or private contractors following the standards of the construction industry.”

For the most part, however, a bridge rigger in the U.S. today is road or railroad under bridge accessing equipment. Often in the form of under bridge inspection vehicles, or trucks, these are often referred to as “Snoopers” although that term isn’t wholly accurate.

Today’s bridge riggers can help you safely inspect, repair, and access every part of any bridge.


Bridge Riggers as Under Bridge Inspection Units


As we’ve noted here, in the bridge inspection and maintenance field, the term “bridge riggers” can be a few things. The term “rigging” can be a noun and refer to the equipment used for lifting and moving large or heavy objects. Rigging is also a verb used to describe the actual work of designing and installing the equipment used for this type of work. So, technically, a “bridge rigger” is still someone who uses or sets up various types of under bridge access equipment.

While the term bridge rigger is sometimes used to refer to the equipment or vehicle, an under bridge inspection unit is much more common and technically correct. Under bridge inspection units, or UBIUs, are designed to allow crews to execute all types of bridge inspection and maintenance work. UBIUs can easily access underneath both roadway and railroad bridge decks and place with the large baskets or platforms underneath. These specialized vehicles can be employed whether a crew needs to work above, below, or alongside a bridge.

Under bridge inspection units can safely maneuver workers close to a bridge structure and allow for hands-on work that is much more efficient and effective than other means of access. A platform-based under bridge inspection unit, for example, is usually mounted on a truck or trailer which is parked on the shoulder or one lane of a bridge deck or bridge roadway. In addition to being able to reach up and over railings and other obstacles, depending on the size of the unit, the booms can reach as much as 72 feet down below grade and up to 75 feet horizontally underneath the bridge. While these vehicles are used for many other bridge work purposes, scheduled and required bridge inspection is one of the major fields for “bridge riggers” or under bridge inspection units.

With more than 600,000 bridges in the United States, the safety and integrity of these structures are vital for moving people and goods over water and land, across cities and the open country. They facilitate the passage of personal vehicles, trucks, and rail trains. And inspections, repairs, and maintenance are a critical part of keeping them open.


Your Best Choice for Bridge Riggers and Under Bridge Inspection Platforms


With the wide range of capabilities available, determining the best choice of “bridge rigger” truck for your bridge inspection project can be challenging. However, it often depends on the structure itself and the terrain you’re working on.

Price is a major consideration, of course, but your specific project needs and required capabilities should be the primary deciding factors for your under bridge inspection truck choice.

Having a professional resource to guide you through the process of finding the right vehicle and equipment for your project is key to making the proper choice.

We provide quality underbridge equipment throughout all the Western States, including California, Washington, and Oregon. Our inventory of snooper trucks, underbridge access platforms, and state-of-the-art self-drive access platforms. 

We are proud to be the only company in California to offer total under bridge access. By offering high quality customer service, we have managed to build long-lasting relationships with our esteemed customers. And we intend to keep it that way. 

Contact us today to talk about your under-bridge requirements.