State DOTs, engineers, contractors, and others have been regularly and routinely inspecting highway bridges in the United States for over 50 years. 

As the Federal Highway Administration has stated in their Highway History,

“The modern highway bridge safety program got underway 50 years ago on April 27, 1971, with the enactment of the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) regulation. Since then, the NBIS has been the backbone of the continuing national effort to ensure that open bridges are safe and unsafe bridges are closed.”

Since that time, the NBIS has required safety inspections at least once every 24 months for highway bridges that exceed 20 feet in total length located on public roads.

But the resources and funding available to keep up with inspections has been challenging for most agencies. And highway bridge repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement has been lagging for decades. 

Recent Infrastructure Legislation Promises an Influx of Funding for Bridges

Until quite recently, many states and other local agencies responsible for highway bridge work including maintenance, repairs, rehabilitation, and, of course, routine and other inspections, have been hard pressed.

Oftentimes the funding needed to finance the work has been chronically lacking. Shortages of equipment and personnel, combined with a growing infrastructure that has frequently outpaced the bridge work output has also been a factor. 

As the ASCE’s 2021 Infrastructure Report Card put it,

“A recent estimate for the nation’s backlog of bridge repair needs is $125 billion. We need to increase spending on bridge rehabilitation from $14.4 billion annually to $22.7 billion annually, or by 58%, if we are to improve the condition. At the current rate of investment, it will take until 2071 to make all of the repairs that are currently necessary, and the additional deterioration over the next 50 years will become overwhelming.”

However, one of the major recent changes to take place regarding the state of highway bridge inspections and bridge work has been the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in late 2021.

More specifically, the inclusion of the Bridge Investment Act as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act designates funds specifically for bridge work. Over the next five years, the grant program will provide $27.5 billion toward further rehabilitation, repair, and replacement of our nation’s bridges.

And no one disagrees that the need is there.

For example, a recent news story from Massachusetts reported that,

“Nearly 650 bridges across Massachusetts are considered “structurally deficient” and that number will only grow without significant investment from the state to address the problem, according to a new report issued today by a Boston think tank.

The report, which relies on data from the state Department of Transportation, concludes that the average Massachusetts bridge is older and in much worse condition than bridges anywhere else in the countr

New Bridge Inspection Technology is Developing Rapidly

Another aspect of the changing state of highway bridge inspections in the U.S. is the rise of new technologies that are being leveraged by DOTs and others.

According to a report from Aviation Today, for example,

“Departments of Transportation are increasingly using autonomous drones for monitoring and performing inspections of critical infrastructure such as bridges and highways. An autonomous drone can eliminate the need for a manual inspection which can be difficult and dangerous. Autonomous drone inspections are also less expensive to perform.”

While drones and other technologies such as ground-based surveillance radar can be used for many bridge inspection functions, there are still limitations and drawbacks. 

And some tasks simply cannot be performed by a drone.

As one paper noted regarding the role of drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs),

“At its best, current technology limits UAS use to an assistive tool for the inspector to perform a bridge inspection faster, safer, and without traffic closure.”

One of the constants in highway bridge inspections is the need for safe, reliable, and extensive under bridge access. And this need is still best met with the use of quality aerial access equipment such as under bridge platforms and bucket trucks.

Under Bridge Platforms – We Provide the Best from the Plains to the West

Under Bridge Platforms serves all of the Western States, including California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming to provide quality under bridge access equipment.

Our growing inventory of under bridge access platforms includes state-of-the-art bridge access platforms such as the versatile Truck Mounted Hydra Platform HPT43 and the rugged DFM Bridgemaster-Art-B-4 bridge unit.

There are several different bridge inspection platform vehicles available from Under Bridge Platforms that all feature multiple capabilities. Determining the best choice for your bridge work project also depends on both the bridge structure and the terrain.

So, while cost is certainly important, the vehicle capabilities and your specific project needs should be the primary deciding factors in your choice of equipment rentals.

With a professional firm you can rely on to guide you through the process, buying or renting the right under bridge inspection vehicle and bridge inspection platform equipment for your project means we are here to help you make the proper selection. 

We are proud to be the only company in our industry based in California that offers total under bridge access. By offering high quality customer service, we have managed to build long-lasting relationships with our esteemed customers.

And we work hard to keep it that way.

Contact us today and let us help you with your under bridge platform and bridge access needs.