Course Description

Recent bridge collapses in Quebec and Minnesota have heightened public anxiety regarding bridge safety. The first line of defence in ensuring bridge safety is adequate bridge inspection. The Johnson Inquiry into the collapse of the Blvd. de la Concorde Bridge in Laval, Quebec was critical of bridge inspection practices. A seminal paper from the US has cast considerable doubt on the efficacy of how bridges are inspected. This bridge inspection course is specifically designed to sensitize all players involved in bridge asset management as to existing weaknesses with current bridge inspection methodology. Equally, it will suggest improved inspection practices that will facilitate more meaningful and focused field data from bridges. The course borrows heavily on the instructor’s personal experience, and is rich in visual content through hundreds of example images.


The objectives of this course are to:

  • Re-acquaint participants with inspection terminology
  • Improve understanding of bridge material weaknesses
  • Help recognize inherent weaknesses in bridge detailing
  • Learn to differentiate between consequential and inconsequential problems
  • Appreciate shortcomings with conventional inspection reporting practices
  • Overcome shortcomings with improved inspection techniques

Benefits to Participants

This course is designed to be of broad benefit to those who actively inspect bridges and culverts, their supervisors, and public works officials involved in bridge asset management. Specifically this course will be of interest to:

  • Bridge Inspection Engineers & Technicians
  • Bridge Asset Managers
  • Public Works Officials
  • Bridge Maintenance Superintendents
  • Engineering firms that inspect bridges

Course Outline

Day 1 - registration/check-in will start at 8:15 a.m. with sessions to begin at 8:30 a.m. and adjourn at 4:00 p.m.

Day 2 will commence at 8:30 a.m. and adjourn at 4:00 p.m. There will be a 15 minute mid-morning and afternoon coffee break. This course includes refreshment breaks, seminar materials and a certificate of completion.

Program Outline

Day 1

8:30 Registration
8:40 Introduction
  Inspection Terminology
Common Bridge Materials
Common Bridge Components
Protection Systems
Common Bridge Types
Common Culvert Types
  Aging and Deterioration Processes
Everything that can and will go wrong with concrete
Understanding steel corrosion
Understanding steel fatigue
Timber challenges
Aluminium weaknesses
Protection systems and their foibles
Idenifying maintenance strategies
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Performance Problems and Threats
Performance and Functionality
The verb-noun construct of functionality
Intended function of the bridge system
Intended function of individual bridge components
Identifying functional deficiencies
Functional obsolescence
What threatens a bridge?
Recognizing vulnerabilities
Doing the right thing
  Achieving consistent inspection record keeping
Exercise: The Consistency Challenge
The lesson from the USA
A lesson from Canada
  Discussion and Questions
4:00 Adjournment

Day 2

8:30 Bridge Inspection Tools and Equipment
How & when to use common inspection tools
What to carry on you
What to have in your trunk or pick-up box
When special access is required
Effective use of personnel
Safety equipment
Safety considerations
How much time should it take?
  Practical Considerations
The trouble with trusses
Bridge fouling
Recognizing reduced redundancy
Cracks; benign vs. non-benign
Expansion joint challenges
Inspecting bearings
Tell-tale signs of deck problems
Girders and floor systems
Diagnosing stream and channel problems
Inspection Timing
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Sensible Inspection Techniques
Observing Linearity
Checking for sag & camber
Recognizing foundation problems
Sounding & listening for distress
Testing for tension
Climatic X-Ray
  Bridge Management & Rating Systems
Bridge Management Systems in the US & Canada
US National Bridge Inventory System (NBIS)
Condition State methodology
Excellent Good Fair Poor Approach
1-6 Scale
Depreciation, Damage & Defects approach (Triple “D”)
  Reliability Based Inspections
  Discussion and Questions
4:00 Adjournment


Harold Kleywegt, P.Eng., is principal and Managing Director of Keystone Bridge Management Corp. He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo (BASc 1976) and the University of Guelph (MSc 1978). Harold has 27 years full-time experience in the management, rehabilitation design, maintenance, construction and inspection of both highway and railway bridges. He was instrumental in the development of the Ontario Bridge Management System and has actively managed 500 provincial bridges in Ontario. He has given numerous presentations on bridge management practices and has been a guest lecturer at Queen's University, Kingston. He was a presenting author at The International Association for Bridge Maintenance and Safety (IABMAS) conference in Seoul, Korea, July 2008.


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