government, the Utah DOT includes NDT in the procedures for NSTM and comparable specialized inspections. Similarly, New York has one of the best state bridge inspection require - ments. Over the past twenty years, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) incorporated more NDT training into the state’s inspection standards for bridges. In the development of its Bridge Inspection Manual of 2017 , which remains the current standard used by NYSDOT personnel, New York requires the performance of NDT to assess the condition of assets integral to the health of the struc- ture, such as approach slabs, as well as diving inspections. Load testing is a recognized practice, at the discretion of bridge engineers, for use as part of routine inspection contracts. NYSDOT also administers a certification program for UT. Program applicants must meet the mini - mum requirements as outlined in ASNT-TC-1A (2016), a collection of recommended practices by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) for NDT certification employer-based programs, for a UT level II technician, a minimum of 2 years of field experience prior to taking the exam, as well as passing an exam that includes written and practical components. While NDT methods have been incorporated into NSTM and specialized underwater inspection, they have value throughout the bridge’s lifespan during routine inspections as well. Introducing NDT to bridge inspec - tion during the bridge’s initial construction can lead to lower lifecycle costs, ensuring the bridge is built according to the original plans and specifications where NDT can yield great benefit as a tool of quality control. Similarly, NDT is very useful at the later stages of the bridge’s life to plan appropriate corrective actions while problems are still small before they can be seen with the naked eye and can therefore prioritize the funding for effective asset management. In either case, NDT can be a powerful tool in bridge inspections when properly executed by trained and accredited personnel who follow well developed testing and evaluation procedures and protocols. Its value is increased when state departments of transportation mandate its use. Differing state regulations result in the reality that NDT is overlooked as an essential component of inspection regimens. Whereas in other more heavily regulated industries such as aviation & aerospace and oil & gas, NDT is a non-negotiable essential service in the lifecycle of an asset. Federal standards also must be bolstered to ensure practices across state DOTs and the industry are uniform and consistently applied. Further - more, state DOTs need to increase the application of NDT testing in inspection protocols by adopting regulations that require it be used in bridge inspection, where appropriate, to prevent the future costs associ- ated with bridge failures and closures. These measures will increase the longevity of the bridges, allowing for better and more efficient use of the public’s money. The Federal Highway Administration has laudably developed a program to showcase different NDT methods to state DOT officials through the National Highway Institute. The one-day, demonstration- based seminar, started originally as a one-day course supplementing NYSDOT annual refresher training, educates bridge inspection per- sonnel on the primary NDT tools for this purpose and teaches them how to perform NDT effectively in bridge inspections. However, it
only touches the surface of these methods and by no means qualifies independent execution of NDT on bridges. In the interest of implementing best practices, bridge owners would also do well to adopt the use of advanced technologies, such as drones and passive sensor based structural monitoring, to improve testing efficiency and reduce the risk of human injury. Proactive efforts to use NDT and monitoring methods to recognize deterioration before it becomes critical to plan maintenance work would be instrumental in preventing the high expenses that accompany emergency work, post - ings, and full replacements. Without more stringent regulation, proper NDT based inspections may increasingly be set aside as a cost sav- ing measure or inconsistently applied, even though full replacement is exponentially more expensive than preventive maintenance, not to mention much more disruptive. As technology in the NDT industry advances, owners along with regu- lators bear a responsibility at the state and federal levels. Professionals in the field must consistently update their training and accreditation in NDT methods as required by their individual state guidelines. ASNT, the largest technical society for NDT professionals, offers certification and standards programs to NDT personnel. Despite the fact that the majority of states require inspectors to attend regular training courses , the value of certification from ASNT cannot be minimized. ASNT’s certification and standards programs as well as its professional devel - opment programs, provide the foundation for expanded awareness of advancements in NDT technology. While ASNT itself does not pro - duce standards that describe how to perform NDT inspections, those standards are available through ASTM International and other organi - zations. They also are highlighted in the codes and standards involved in NDT industry . The improvement of bridge inspection practices could detect and address poor construction to dangerous structural defects before a worst-case scenario presents itself. We should learn from our past and become more proactive and less reactive in our approach to bridge management. We regularly perform diagnostic tests on our planes, cars, and even our own bodies. Why should we tolerate anything less for the structures that are the lifeline of our economy?
MARYBETH MICELI, C.ENG. has been a member of ASNT for over 20 years. Throughout the years, she has served as chairperson on different committees and councils, including the Board of Directors and the Infrastructure Commit- tee. Ms. Miceli also led many of the Women in NDT committee initiatives in ASNT to supports women’s advocacy in the NDT field. SREENIVAS ALAMPALLI, P.E. PHD is a Senior Principal at Stantec, focusing on NDT and Structural Monitoring areas. He is a Fellow of ASNT, ASCE, the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), and the International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII).
November 2022 csengineermag.com
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