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Section 14: Bridge Emergency Response and Notification

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Response and Notification Procedure

Each district will communicate bridge related emergencies that result in traffic restrictions lasting four or more hours to Administration, FHWA, TxDMV and Bridge Division. Email groups have been established that include the appropriate Administration, Bridge Division, and FHWA personnel. Include the following information and contacts:


The District Designee, along with maintenance personnel, will work together to fill out either the Bridge Incident Reporting Form or the Permit Restriction Application. Provide the District Permit Coordinator the form for review and submission to TxDMV and Bridge Division. Events warranting an emergency response should be reported within 8 hours of the incident.

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Definition and Background

Bridge vehicular and non-vehicular emergencies create significant threats to public safety and highway infrastructure. Vehicular impact events include over-height impacts, column and rail impacts, and deck punch-through incidents. Non-vehicular emergencies include, but are not limited to, flooding, fires, and slope failures. These events result in serious damage to bridges and cause traffic congestion due to travel lane restrictions. Similarly, critical findings from bridge inspections can result in full or partial closures that significantly affect traffic. Any impact or other emergency to a bridge resulting in traffic restrictions expected to last longer than 4 hours is considered a reportable incident and must be reported. It is imperative that the proper response and notification procedure be implemented, in order to communicate bridge emergencies in a way that is both uniform and effective. An effective response procedure will quickly inform authorities of these events, help restore traffic restrictions to normal conditions, and expedite the rehabilitation of bridge structures.

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Roles and Responsibilities

District Designee: The District Engineer will designate one primary and one backup person responsible for the overall response and notification of bridge emergencies that result in full or partial closures. This will typically be the District Bridge Engineer and District Bridge Inspection Coordinator but may vary from District to District. The District Designee will send an email with either vehicular or non-vehicular impact information to TxDOT Administration, FHWA, TxDMV and Bridge Division within 8 hours of occurrence. However, the first priority should be the onsite emergency response. Do not delay the field response for the sake of completing this notification process.

In the case of a vehicular impact, the Designee is responsible for completing the Bridge Incident Reporting Form and sending it to the District Permit Coordinator. A copy of the form should also be uploaded to the Bridge Inspection Management System as part of the official record. For non-vehicular impacts, the Designee will complete the Permit Restriction Application form and send it to the District Permit Coordinator. Designee should also follow the criteria for reporting closures as covered in the Highway Conditions Reporting System (HCRS) Manual at http://gsd-ultraseek/txdotmanuals/hcr/hcr.pdf.

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Immediate Response

The District Designee, in conjunction with maintenance personnel, will conduct an initial assessment of the bridge site. For vehicular impacts, investigate the impact location and consider any reduction in structural capacity. Consider closing traffic lanes under the bridge due to the possibility of falling debris and/or risk of partial or total collapse. The Bridge Division is available to assist with all aspects of the post-impact assessment and repair procedures. For non-vehicular incidents, observe the extent of damage and the need for traffic restrictions. Bridge Division will assist Districts with the assessment of damage and determination of potential traffic restrictions and provide engineering support as necessary. District Permit Coordinator is responsible for reviewing both the Bridge Incident Reporting Form and Permit Restriction Application, then sending it to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as the bridge has been assessed and the lane/load limits determined (24 hours maximum).

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Documentation and Record Keeping

TxDMV Bridge Incident Reporting Form: Use for vehicular incidents. This form contains vehicle identification information and details including the location and time of accident. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will use the information to issue potential fines and penalties for oversize/overweight, permit violations. More importantly, the TxDMV will alter or restrict the routing of permitted loads as appropriate. This form must be submitted to TxDMV by the District Permit Coordinator with a cc to the Bridge Division.

TxDMV Permit Restriction Application: Use for non-vehicular incidents. This form contains information about bridge location and dimensions, and allows for a description of the incident or situation that necessitates a load permit restriction. This form must be submitted to TxDMV by the District Permit Coordinator with a cc to the Bridge Division.

Bridge Impact Summary Spreadsheet: The Bridge Division maintains an impact summary spreadsheet documenting all vehicular impacts throughout the state. This information will be used to provide the Texas Legislature, Commission, and TxDOT Administration with detailed accounts for all bridge-related impact events.

Any repair plans submitted to remedy the damage should be uploaded to the Bridge Inspection Management System. If the condition rating needs to be lowered for Items 58-62 or 65, then a Damage Inspection Report should be completed and appropriate steps completed in the Bridge Inspection Management System to document the damage and substantiate the change in the rating.

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