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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - Jan/Feb 2007

Jan/Feb 2007
Issue No:
Vol. 70 No. 4
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Training Update

New NHI Course Meets NBIS Requirement for Divers Conducting Underwater Inspections

The latest update to the National Bridge Inspection Stan-dards (NBIS) became effective January 13, 2005, and requires bridge inspection training for all divers conducting underwater inspections. One way to meet the requirement is satisfactory completion of a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)-approved underwater bridge inspection training course. FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI) has added a course to its offerings, Underwater Bridge Inspection (FHWA-NHI-130091).

The course provides an overview of inspection methods useful to personnel responsible for managing and conducting underwater bridge inspections. Topics include methods of underwater inspection, inspection techniques for underwater materials and scour, and underwater element-level condition rating. Practical exercises and demonstrations are used to reinforce the course content.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to do the following:

  • Describe typical underwater defects and deterioration, and identify conditions contributing to rates of deterioration
  • Identify inspection equipment and the advantages and limitations of each
  • Identify procedures for planning and performing thorough and safe underwater bridge inspections
  • Assign component and element-level condition ratings for underwater components in accordance with NBIS and agency requirements
In NHI's Underwater Bridge Inspection course, attendees participate in an exercise demonstrating the practical application of tactile inspection techniques.

The 3-day course targets experienced divers, as well as bridge inspection program managers, structural engineers, and nondiver bridge inspectors from the public and private sectors. There are no prerequisites.

NHI also offers several structure and bridge inspection-related courses. The following are some of the NHI courses available. Please visit for more detailed information.

  • Bridge Inspection Refresher Training (FHWA-NHI-130053)—The major goals of this course are to refresh the skills of practicing bridge inspectors in visual inspection techniques and to review inspectors' professional obligations. Participants also will discuss issues of national significance relating to the Nation's bridge infrastructure. By the course's end, attendees will be able to perform safety inspections, component or element-level condition ratings, functional appraisals, and data collection. They also will be able to evaluate channel scour as applied to waterway ratings and collect field data with precision.
  • Engineering Concepts for Bridge Inspectors (FHWA-NHI-130054)—This course prepares technicians for NHI's more intensive 2-week course in bridge inspection, Safety Inspection of In-Service Bridges (FHWA-NHI-130055). It provides participants with conceptual knowledge of bridge engineering, including materials, material properties, bridge components and details, loadings, stresses and strains, and deterioration of bridge materials and members.
  • Safety Inspection of In-Service Bridges (FHWA-NHI-130055)—This course fulfills NBIS requirements for comprehensive training. Participants will be administered mid-term and final examinations on the course, which is based on the new Bridge Inspector's Reference Manual. At the end of the course, attendees will be able to evaluate a variety of bridges and critical areas, review plans and reports before inspections, provide reports on defects, and identify equipment needed for inspections.
  • Fracture Critical Inspection Techniques for Steel Bridges (FHWA-NHI-130078)—This course includes training and hands-on workshops for popular types of nondestructive testing (NDT) equipment and a case study for preparing an inspection plan for a fracture critical bridge. By the course's end, participants will know how to identify fracture critical bridges and members, perform a thorough fracture-critical member inspection, identify various crack types and assess their impact on performance, and recommend a necessary action based on inspection findings.
  • Bridge Coatings Inspection (FHWA-NHI-130079)—During the course, participants will focus on inspection of surface preparation and application of protective coating systems for bridge and highway structures, including navigation through the State's painting specification. At the end of the course, participants will understand coating specifications and how to diagnose premature coating failures. The course includes lectures, discussion, demonstrations, and hands-on workshops.
  • Inspection and Maintenance of Ancillary Highway Structures (FHWA-NHI-130087)—Participants will learn how to establish and conduct an inspection program according to FHWA's "Guidelines for the Installation, Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair of Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaries, and Traffic Signals." After completing the course, participants will be able to identify common visible weld defects, appropriate NDT techniques, factors that lead to corrosion, and repair techniques, as well as explain mitigation methods used in ancillary structures.
  • Bridge Construction Inspection (FHWA-NHI-130088)—This core course establishes minimum competencies among inspectors. Participants will gain knowledge of construction, the problems and consequences that can arise during construction, and how these factors affect a structure's safety and service life. Participants will interpret drawings and specifications; describe the construction sequence for various bridge systems, types, and materials; maintain bridge controls for location and elevation; perform surveys; and check dimensions.

For more information on these courses, contact Gary Moss at 202-366-4654 or To schedule a course, contact the NHI Training Coordinator at 703-235-0534 or To obtain information about all NHI courses, access the course catalog at or contact NHI at 703-235-0500 (phone) or 703-235-0593 (fax).

Kevin Monaghan is a contractor for NHI.