DETROIT – Structural cracks, buckled or bent steel, visual fretting corrosion – these are the kinds of things at the forefront of a bridge inspector’s mind. Oh, and don’t forget to quantify the severity and extent of all deficiencies.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the highest of standards when it comes to safety inspections and bridge inspections are a big part of that,” according to Andy Wadysz. “Safety is paramount,” he stressed. Wadysz serves as the Detroit District’s Bridge Safety Program Manager, BSPM, for the past 22 years and respects the program’s commitment to high-quality.
The primary purpose of the USACE Bridge Safety Program is to ensure all bridges within each district’s inventory are safe for their intended use. Bridge types vary from access bridges, railroad bridges, public pedestrian bridges to complex bridges. When conducting inspections and evaluations of a bridge site for user safety, there are specific requirements, detailed procedures and best practices that are closely adhered to for all bridge types.
According to the USACE Bridge Safety Program, all USACE offices having ownership or oversight responsibility of bridges must inventory, inspect, evaluate and prepare reports. Sufficient evaluations must be conducted to determine safety, structural integrity, capacity and mission suitability.
The Detroit District is responsible for five bridges within its district boundaries. Four of the five bridges are located at the Soo Area Office in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The fifth is located in Charlevoix, Michigan near the end of the south pier and currently closed for repairs.
The bridges at the Soo Area Office include: the Compensating Works Sluiceway Bridge built in the 1920’s, the Main Powerhouse Utility Bridge built in the 1950’s, the Main Powerhouse Sluiceway Bridge built in the 1950’s and the Acrow Bridges spanning each of the locks that are lifted into place as necessary and can be easily moved or stored.
“The bridges at the Soo are on USACE property and are only used by those in the facility, they are not open to the public,” said Neil Kaczorowski. The bridge on the south pier in Charlevoix is open to the public when not closed for repairs.
Kaczorowski is a structural Engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District who recently received his Bridge Inspector Certification. “I was excited for the opportunity to become bridge inspector certified so I could increase my skillset with bridge inspections and become more familiar with bridges in general,” he said with pride.
Kaczorowski’s Bridge Inspector Certification, training consisted of 80-hours of class time, a simulated inspection at a bridge site and two exams. BSPM’s like Wadysz must be a structural engineer, a licensed professional engineer, have at least five-years of experience and have successfully completed a Federal Highway Administration-approved comprehensive bridge inspection training course.
“We are glad to add Neil to the Detroit District bridge inspection team to help maintain a strong staff for years to come," said Wadysz with a big smile. “His completion of this certification will help our district exceed USACE standards. The district will now have four certified inspectors with over 30-years of combined inspection experience. This team will ensure that all bridges in the district’s inventory are thoroughly inspected on schedule.”
Routine inspections determine the physical and functional condition of the structure and identify any changes from the initial inspection or from previously recorded routine inspection conditions. A typical USACE bridge inspection has five segments: planning, preparation, inspection, report writing and recommendation.
The Detroit District conducts their bridge inspections year-round as needed to meet safety, schedule and operational requirements for each bridge and Kaczorowski is looking forward to contributing this year. “I will get the opportunity to participate in two inspections this year, now that I am certified.”
When not inspecting bridges, the team is busy with the structural design and analysis of various civil works projects across the district.
Next time you are walking over a bridge, remember how much goes into each inspection to ensure your safety. Andy Wadysz, Neil Kaczorowski, Clint Dougherty and Jacob Carr of the Detroit District bridge inspection team may be conducting an inspection at this very moment documenting trip hazards, unsound concrete, damaged bar grate panels and guard railings.
The USACE Bridge Inventory System contains in inventory of all USACE bridges and inspection reports. To learn more, visit: https://cebis.sec.usace.army.mil/ords/f?p=109:1.