Appendix A: State and Federal Regulations

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Bridge Inspection Guidelines

Three regulations and codes have particular bearing on bridge inspection.

Regulations Affecting Bridge Inspection


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Code of Federal Regulations directives/fapg/cfr0650c.htm

U.S. Code for Bridge Inspection title23.pdf

Texas Transportation Code

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Code of Federal Regulations Highlights

Section 650.301, Application of standards. This section states that all sections in this part (Subpart C) apply to all structures defined as bridges. It also restates the current AASHTO definition of a bridge. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1979, and it was amended in 1986.

Section 650.303, Inspection procedures. This section requires each state transportation department to have an organization that is capable of performing bridge inspections and preparing reports and ratings in accordance with the AASHTO Manual for Maintenance Inspection of Bridges. It further requires that each structure be rated to determine safe load capacity, and it gives the criteria at which the structure must be load-restricted. This section makes TxDOT responsible for determining the safe load capacity of each bridge in the inventory. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1971 and amended in 1979 and 1988.

Section 650.305, Frequency of inspections. This section defines the maximum interval between bridge inspections. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1971 and amended in 1974, 1988, and 1992.

Section 650.307, Qualifications of personnel. This section gives the minimum qualifications for individuals conducting bridge inspections and administering a bridge inspection program. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1971 and amended in 1979 and 1988.

Section 650.309, Inspection report. This section requires standard forms to be used for reporting bridge inspections. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1974.

Section 650.311, Inventory. This section requires each state to maintain an inventory of all the bridges in the state. It also stipulates that the maximum allowable time states have to update the inventory is 90 days after any change in the status of a structure. This section was first added to the Federal Register in 1979 and amended in 1988.

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U.S. Code for Bridge Inspection Highlights

Section 116, Maintenance. This section states that if any project, including bridges, constructed under the provisions of this chapter is found not being properly maintained, including inspections and load posting of bridges, then the state has 90 days after the problem is called to its attention to correct the problem. If nothing is done, then approval of further projects can be withheld. This section is used to justify withholding federal funds to local entities that do not comply with the National Bridge Inspection Standards.

Section 144, Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. This section states that it is of vital interest to the nation to establish a bridge rehabilitation and replacement program to address those structures that are unsafe due to structural deficiencies, physical deterioration, or functional obsolescence. As part of this program, the state must inventory all on- and off-system bridges and classify them for serviceability, safety, and essentiality for public use. This section was used to require each state to establish a bridge inspection program. It requires that the rehabilitation and replacement program be based on the number of unsafe bridges in each state. It also requires the inventory, retention, rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, and future study of historic bridges. A historic bridge is any bridge that is listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Section 151, National Bridge Inspection Program. This section requires the state transportation departments to establish standards for the procedures used to make bridge inspections. These standards must establish methods, frequencies, qualifications for inspectors, reporting procedures, and a procedure for national certification and training of bridge inspectors.

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Texas Transportation Code Highlights

Section 201.803, Information for Road Construction and Maintenance. Subsection (e) allows TxDOT to request from county and municipal officials any information necessary for performance of the department’s duties under this section. Therefore, if the department first requests the information, it should have no problem obtaining as-built plans. However, in almost all cases, the department does not have prior knowledge of the construction of an off-system bridge. Often, by the time the structure is first located by the department, the plans have disappeared.

Section 201.8035, Inspection of County and Municipal Bridges. This section deals with the inspection of off-system bridges. Subsection (a) requires TxDOT to notify local jurisdictions when a bridge qualifies for a lower load rating. Subsection (b) requires that local entities post notices on the roadway approaching the bridge. This section gives TxDOT the authority and responsibility to require posting of off-system bridges by counties and municipalities. This section holds TxDOT accountable for ensuring that off-system bridges are capable of safely carrying loads. Local entities should provide the information necessary for TxDOT to carry out this duty.

Section 621.301, County’s Authority to Set Maximum Weights. This section allows a county to establish load limits for a county road or bridge only with the concurrence of the department. If a county determines that the load limit of a county bridge should be different from the load limit supported by a department inspection, the county must submit the proposed load limit to the district engineer. A request for a load limit must be accompanied by supporting documentation that is sealed by an engineer and that includes at a minimum calculations supporting the proposed limit and a structural evaluation report documenting the condition of the bridge. The district engineer concurs with a county's proposal in writing. If the department does not indicate concurrence or non-concurrence in writing within 30 calendar days of receipt by the department of a request that includes all required documentation, the proposed load limit is deemed concurred with by the department. The department may review the load limit and withdraw this concurrence at any time by providing written notification to the county. A county may appeal the decision of the district engineer by submitting a written request, along with the required documentation, to the executive director. The executive director will review the request and determine if department concurrence will be granted. The executive director's decision is final.

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