Section 4: Federal and State Inspection Procedures

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The Bridge Inspector's Reference Manual

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  • The Bridge Inspector's Reference Manual (BIRM) is a comprehensive manual on programs, procedures, and techniques for inspecting and evaluating a variety of in-service highway bridges. It is intended to replace the BITM 90 which was first published in 1991 to assist in training highway personnel for the new discipline of bridge safety inspection. BITM 90 replaced BITM 70 which had been in use for twenty years and has been the basis for several training programs varying in length from a few days to two weeks. Comprehensive supplements to BITM 70 have been developed to cover inspection of fracture critical bridge members, and culverts are not covered in the BIRM.
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  • The BIRM is a revision and upgrading of the previous manual. Improved Bridge Inspection Techniques are presented, and state-of-the-art inspection equipment is included. New or expanded coverage is provided on culverts, fracture critical members, cable-stayed bridges, prestressed segmental bridges, and underwater inspection. Previous supplemental manuals on moveable bridge inspection and nondestructive testing are excerpted and referenced. These supplemental manuals are still valid supplements to BIRM.
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Texas Bridge Inspection Procedures

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  • Inspection procedures in Texas have evolved since the first inspection program was initiated in about 1975.
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  • Data recorded in Texas exceed that of the current SI&A information required by the FHWA. Texas captures all the required information plus approximately 50 percent more. A detailed description of the data recorded is presented in the Coding Guide.
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  • The purposes of bridge inspection are:
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    • To ensure public safety and confidence in bridge structural capacity
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    • To protect public investment and allow efficient allocation of resources
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    • To effectively schedule maintenance and rehabilitation operations
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    • To provide a basis for repair, replacement, or other improvements such as retrofit railings
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    • To ensure that federal funding will remain available for bridge rehabilitation and replacement
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  • Bridges are inspected every two years, but the frequency may be increased depending on the condition of the bridge. More detail will be given in Chapter 4, Field Inspection Requirements.
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  • There are five basic types of inspection, each of which will be described in greater detail in Chapter 4, Field Inspection Requirements:
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    • Initial Inspection. Performed on new bridges or when bridge is first recorded.
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    • Routine Inspections. Those regularly scheduled, usually every two years for most normal bridges.
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    • Event Driven Inspections (AASHTO Damage Inspections). Those performed as a result of collision, fire, flood, significant environmental changes, loss of support, etc. These inspections are also called Emergency Inspections and are performed on an as-needed basis.
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    • In-Depth Inspections. Performed usually as a follow-up inspections to better identify deficiencies found in any of the above three types of inspection. Detailed Underwater Inspections are considered a type of In-Depth Inspection. Fracture-critical Inspections are another type of In-Depth Inspection.
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    • Special Inspections. Performed to monitor a particular deficiency or changing condition. Unusual bridge designs or features such as external, grouted, post-tensioned tendons, may require a Special Inspection.

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