The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

The Federal Highway Administration traveled to Pennsylvania last week to demonstrate the capabilities of their new million-dollar bridge inspection robot named RABIT (Robotic Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool).  The Federal Highway Administration chose to demonstrate the robot's capability in front of members of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation because Pennsylvania has the most structurally deficient bridges of any state in the United States. The state is also home to the oldest bridges by average and has the third most bridges of any state. The FWHA believes that RABIT will become invaluable to DOTs around the country in the near future as a way to cut down on the manpower needed to inspect bridge decks.

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  • Date occured Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to replace 500 bridges in the state starting in 2015, and the majority of these bridges will be built under public-private partnership contracts.  Currently 4,200 bridges, or 18% of the state’s bridges, are structurally deficient. This figure is 11% higher than the national average.  This should not be too surprising, however, because the average age of a bridge in Pennsylvania is around 50 years old.  Also, the majority of the bridges listed as structurally deficient require only minor repairs, or they are deteriorating and might need weight restrictions in the future as a result.  All of the bridges are safe, but PennDOT has identified 300 bridges that they would like to use public-private partnerships to replace.  Under a public-private partnership, a private company or team must design, build, and maintain each bridge.  PennDOT will pay the team based on their performance.

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  • Date occured Friday, 24 January 2014