Infrastructure Technology Institute
The ITI Research Engineering Group supported the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 2011 National Bridge Management, Inspection, and Preservation Conference by recording and webcasting breakout sessions on bridge inspection. Building upon the success of the 2007 FHWA National Bridge Preservation Workshop – also recorded and webcast by ITI – the 2011 conference featured expanded management, inspection, and preservation tracks in addition to plenary technical sessions.
The 2011 conference, held November 1-2 in St. Louis and subtitled “Managing the Nation’s Bridges: Beyond the Short Term”, attracted nearly twice the number of attendees as the 2007 workshop. Technical presentations illustrated a wide array of strategies and methods to ensure the safety and performance of the nation's highway bridges. In the plenary sessions, speakers emphasized that bridge preservation is the most sustainable strategy to ensure the long-term serviceability of the nation's highway bridges and discussed how performance metrics can be used to move away from the “worst-first” practice of addressing only bridges in poor condition and instead adopting preservation strategies to keep good bridges in good condition.
Technical sessions in the bridge inspection track recorded by the ITI REG included an introduction to bridge inspections using the new AASHTO element-level inspection manual, quality control and quality assurance of bridge inspection data, and discussion of the future of the FHWA National Bridge Inventory. Other talks in the inspection track made direct ties to the bridge preservation theme: for example, using inspection data to identify preservation needs, and development of procedures beyond inspection reports for timely identification and corrective action for specific maintenance needs before they reach critical levels.
Conference attendees gave the event high marks and called for another conference in two years. In the meantime, they asked for continued promotion of bridge preservation, increased research into effective preservation strategies and they called for increased sharing of best practices among the states.