Along with most of the infrastructure in the United States, bridges certainly do not meet the safety standard recommended by experts in the field.
Let’s explore the safety (or lack thereof) of bridges in the United States and how nondestructive testing can be used to help support the structures and roadways necessary for the daily commute of countless Americans.
The ASCE or American Society for Civil Engineers has consistently rated American infrastructure low, with the overall score at a C- after many years with a D rating. Even with these apparent improvements, some critical services like wastewater and roads are still in the D range.
When it comes to bridges, there are a number of different factors that contribute to their lack of safety. In total, there are roughly 617,000 bridges in the United States. Of those, 42% of bridges are 50 years old or older, and 7.5% of those bridges are considered structurally deficient.
While 7.5% may seem like a small percentage of bridges, that totals out to 46,154 bridges in all. Certainly, the millions of trips taken across those bridges every day can present a serious risk to the health and safety of commuters.
It is critical to understand that a “structurally deficient” bridge is not necessarily destined for collapse, but this poor condition can lead to expensive and frustrating closures for repairs and more stringent weight restrictions.
In spite of all of this, there have been some improvements made that will ideally continue. The 7.5% of structurally deficient bridges is actually a significant reduction from the 12.1% of bridges evaluated roughly ten years ago. If the investment in improving infrastructure continues, more and more bridges can be considered structurally sound and increase safety for commuters.
The ASCE estimates that it could take up to 50 years to fully restore the safety of all of the United State’s failing bridges. Unless a significant investment is made in the inspection, repair, and preservation of bridges across the nation, it will take until 2071 to complete all necessary repairs.
According to the ASCE, “The nation needs a systematic program for bridge preservation like that embraced by many states, whereby existing deterioration is prioritized, and the focus is on preventive maintenance.”
One of the best ways to inspect and maintain safety is through nondestructive testing services. Structures like bridges require fast, precise, and consistent results through testing measures that won’t cause damage to the bridges themselves.
Ultrasonic nondestructive testing, liquid penetrant testing, and magnetic particle testing are just a few of the testing methods that can be used to examine infrastructure assets for safety and help technicians devise plans for repairs and continued maintenance of safety.
A thriving infrastructure is key to a healthy and thriving nation. It is critical that nondestructive testing services are enlisted to support the infrastructure field as we all work together to repair our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Whether you are looking to hire nondestructive testing services to protect your assets or become a technician through NDT technician training, it is crucial to choose the right company to meet your NDT needs.
TXNDT is a cut above the rest with superior NDT courses, knowledgeable instructors, and hands-on coursework to prepare all prospective technicians for the NDT certification. When lives are on the line, choose the best people for the job. Check us out online, or give us a call today at 281-231-0001 to see how TXNDT can work for you!