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Proceedings Paper

Climbing techniques for bridge inspection
Author(s): Erol C. Kaslan
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Paper Abstract

California has about 24,000 publicly owned bridges that require routine structural evaluations to comply with National Bridge Inspection Standard (NBIS) mandates. Of these, about 800 are identified as possessing fatigue prone or fracture critical details requiring thorough tactile investigations. Gaining access to bridge elements to perform these investigations has become increasingly difficult and costly. The traditional uses of under bridge inspection trucks, lift equipment and rigging are economically and practically limited by bridge size, structure type, traffic demands and support costs. In some cases, bridges that have become damaged by earthquakes cannot safely support the loads of heavy personnel lift equipment. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)'s Office of Structural Materials and Office of Structure Maintenance and Investigations evaluated the use of rock climbing and mountaineering techniques as an alternative means of gaining access for bridge inspections. Under a small research grant, a bridge climbing training course was developed through a local University of California outdoor recreation group and 7 engineers and technicians were initially trained. A comprehensive Code of Safe Practices was created and standards of training, procedures and equipment required for bridge inspections were established. A successful climb investigation on a large, previously inaccessible arch bridge was completed at the end of the training that proved the techniques safe, economical and effective. Within one year, 20 bridge maintenance engineers were trained, and a formal program was established to organize, schedule, equip and certify engineers and technicians for bridge climbing. Several other offices within Caltrans as well as the California Department of Water Resources have since adopted these techniques for specialized structural inspection tasks. Climbing techniques are now used routinely in California as an alterative means of gaining access to bridges and structures, and over 100 bridges have been identified as those where climbing is the only means available to perform structural investigations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 March 1998
PDF: 3 pages
Proc. SPIE 3400, Structural Materials Technology III: An NDT Conference, (31 March 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.300110
Show Author Affiliations
Erol C. Kaslan, California Dept. of Transportation (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3400:
Structural Materials Technology III: An NDT Conference
Ronald D. Medlock; David C. Laffrey, Editor(s)

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