As you know, states obviously have to go along with federal bridge
inspection requirements in order to keep getting the federal funds (I will,
with great self-restraint, not go down that path at the moment). Counties
typically go along with the state requirements since they don't have the
resources to develop their own bridge inspection programs (and why re-invent
In your case of private ownership with county maintenance, I don't see the
need to necessarily follow the state requirements, methods, or forms. A
thorough inspection that addresses all of the elements and verification of
the capacity for the anticipated loads should suffice. You would probably
want to make the Owner and perhaps the County aware that your procedures may
vary from the state requirements.
After saying all of that, is there a particular reason for not following the
David Finley, P.E.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Polhemus" <bill(--nospam--at)polhemus.cc>
To: "SEAINT" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2001 4:35 PM
Subject: Q: Bridge Inspection And Rating - NOT Public Facility
> I have one of those "fish or fowl" questions. Many of you here, such as
> Caldwell, may be familiar with the Texas Department of Transportation's
> BRINSAP (Bridge Inventory, Inspection, and Appraisal Program). Certainly
> other states have similar programs.
> I am not intimately familiar with bridge inspection procedures save in a
> cursory way, but I am familiar with "inspection" of existing structures to
> ascertain their state, their susceptibility to remedy if needed, and other
> subjective criteria related to structural function.
> I have a client prospect who wants a proposal on inspection of some
> that they have on their own, private facility. It is a not-for-profit
> foundation, which owns a considerable amount of ranchland which is used
> mostly for public education purposes.
> They have some timber bridges of varying ages ranging from five years to
> twenty years. They were apparently designed by the county, and the
> foundation paid for construction. At the time of their design they were
> "guaranteed" to handle a specified load, although the means for
> that criteria were apparently never communicated. The county apparently
> maintains the bridges, however that is defined (we didn't get into that in
> our discussion).
> From time to time it is desirable that large vehicles, such as tour buses,
> be permitted access to these bridges. When this happens, the question
> invariably arises: "Will this bridge handle this bus?" This question is
> impertinent since the original timber materials of construction do appear
> under casual inspection to be questionable. In fact, the deck of one of
> older bridges was recently replaced, and even some of the newer bridges
> as though the deck could use replacement, at least in part.
> Some of the other visible components such as timber piling at the
> appear to need inspection and evaluation as well.
> My question is this: Is there any legal reason, under state or federal
> statutes, why a formal bridge inspection routine such as that provided by
> BRINSAP or similar Federally-mandated, state-funded programs MUST be
> utilized in such a case?
> The reason I have a question in my mind about it is because the county is
> involved. At least in Texas, the counties follow the guidelines set down
> the state DOT, and so county bridges, whether or not they are built or
> maintained by federal matching funds, are also under the aegis of the
> BRINSAP program.
> These aren't county bridges. But they are county "maintained". Is it a
> question solely of where the money comes from for that "maintenance" (I
> not yet determined this).
> I'd like some thoughts on this, and would particularly welcome hearing
> any who have dealt with bridge or transportation structures on private
> William L. Polhemus, Jr., P.E.
> Polhemus Engineering Company
> Katy, Texas
> Phone 281-492-2251
> Fax 281-492-8203
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