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LTAP works closely with the LA DOTD Bridge Inspection and Maintenance Section and the Bridge Design Section on issues related to local bridge management. Local agencies own and manage over 6, 000 bridges in Louisiana and account for 81% of the total number of public bridges in the state. The DOTD oversees compliance programs related to all bridges and assists local bridge owners in meeting federal requirements. LTAP is working with DOTD to inform and educate local bridge owners on new or expanded requirements affecting local bridge management and compliance with State and Federal standards.
A series of new and updated training classes have been developed by LTAP in partnership with the DOTD. These include:
LTAP is also working with DOTD to make resources available to enable local agencies to access materials necessary to implement and maintain local bridge management programs to ensure safety and meet compliance requirements.
Background of the Louisiana Bridge Management Program
For over thirty years the LA DOTD has assisted local bridge owners in meeting the requirements of bridge ownership by performing the required routine biannual compliance inspections on all bridges including the locally owned, off-system bridges and has submitted the results on behalf of the local bridge owners to the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) at FHWA. This has relieved local agencies of the need to maintain or contract certified bridge inspectors to meet the inspection requirements and ensured consistency across the state. However, local agencies have still been required to follow all other bridge program management requirements. Local bridge owners are required to:
Meeting the NBIS Program Metrics
In 2009 based on findings from the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued new oversight guidelines which passed into law and is known as the National Bridge Inspection Program Metrics. This law contains 23 specific metrics that are evaluated for full compliance. The FHWA evaluation of the 23 Metrics for Louisiana resulted in a finding of “conditionally compliant” which required the LA DOTD to develop and submit a Plan of Corrective Action with a goal of full compliance by December 2017. The failure of the state to achieve compliance will likely have serious consequences including increasing the liabilities of operating a bridge system network deemed to be not compliant with the federal inspection program.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) is responsible for ensuring compliance with all federal requirements related to public bridges in Louisiana including the off-system bridges on locally owned roads. In Louisiana, the bridge owner is responsible for all aspects of bridge program management with the exception of the biannual compliance inspections, which LA DOTD conducts and documents. All interim inspections, maintenance and repair, initial load ratings, posting and closures, load rating reviews, file maintenance, etc., are the responsibility of the local bridge owner. Local bridge owners play a significant role in meeting the requirements of seven of the key metrics including Metric 11- Frequency Criteria, Metric 13- Load Rating; Metric 15 – Bridge Files; and Metric 20 – Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC), Metric 21 – Critical Findings, Metric 22 – Inventory Preparation and Maintenance, and Metric 23 – Timely Updating Inventory Data. The new rules as well as the previous one requires that the bridge owner conduct and report an initial bridge rating and to rerate a bridge in poor condition when the condition changes.
To ensure the safety of all bridges and to meet current federal regulations, the LA DOTD has identified bridges that lack sufficient load ratings and/or adequate files documenting the design, history and condition. The LA DOTD has begun an aggressive project to collect all available information on these bridges and to enforce the rating requirement. Action will be required by each local bridge owner. This may range from confirming ownership and verifying information on file to assembling missing file data and/or conducting load ratings. In addition, all bridge owners must attend a mandatory Bridge Program Management meeting which will be announced by each LA DOTD District Administrator. Technical assistance will be available to facilitate this important effort and if necessary a compliance schedule will be developed based on specific situations. **NOTE: All bridge owners received a letter in August 2015 which includes a request for required information. A copy of the letter sent to all parishes and other local bridge owners can be viewed here.
Bridge Program Courses
There are multiple courses to be offered in order to properly and adequately train local bridge owners on proper technique regarding inspection and documentation. Although each course is not required, they are strongly recommended to ensure a consistent method of documenting throughout Louisiana.
Inspection of Local Bridges (RS#13)
In Louisiana, local bridge owners have the responsibility to conduct Special Inspections of bridges to monitor known or suspected deficiencies. According to the Manual For Bridge Evaluation, these Special Inspections can be conducted by a “qualified person familiar with the bridge” who has been provided with the “guidelines and procedures on what to observe and measure.” This class will provide the basic training for local agency personnel to conduct Special Inspections of bridges owned by parishes and municipalities and provide the necessary training for the transition from current inspection procedures to the new and updated DOTD system. LTAP has worked closely with the DOTD Bridge Inspection and Maintenance Section to ensure that the class reflects the requirements of DOTD’s compliance program in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards. It is strongly advised that each parish sends at least one bridge inspector or supervisor to this course in order to meet compliance requirements.
Bridge Maintenance and Repair (RS#14)
This course is a follow-up to the LTAP course, “Introduction to LA Off-System Bridge Inspection,” and is designed to assist local agencies in knowing what to do once bridge deficiencies are identified. A variety of repair and rehabilitation methods will be covered, with an emphasis on timber bridges. Preventive maintenance techniques for various bridge components will also be discussed. This course is designed for local road and bridge inspectors, managers and maintenance personnel.
Overview of Local Bridge Rating
It is the responsibility of each bridge owner to provide an initial load rating for each bridge and to rerate bridges when the operating condition of a bridge warrants a rating change. The Louisiana DOTD is implementing an aggressive Compliance Program to ensure that all bridges in Louisiana are documented with verifiable load ratings. This class will provide an overview of the fundamental requirements of the bridge rating process required by LA DOTD and FHWA. Topics covered will include what is required by LADOTD for rating documentation of each individual bridge, the purpose and benefit of load rating, explanations of the rating methods covered by AASHTO’s MBE including the preferred LRFR rating method, and policies and procedures associated with the methods for both new and existing bridges along with any unique rating loads currently utilized by our State. Examples of load rating procedures for common bridges in Louisiana will be presented. This class is an overview for experienced bridge rating engineers and bridge owners and does not replace the more extensive NHI Bridge Rating Class or other training programs.
This course provides novice and experienced bridge engineers with the fundamental knowledge necessary to apply the most recent AASHTO LRFR Specifications to bridge ratings and how the Louisiana DOTD rating requirements encompass these LRFR specifications. This course introduces participants to applications of LRFR specifications that can be used to enhance bridge safety and to identify and discuss the steps to ensure successful transition to this new state-of-the art methodology.