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NDDOT to partially outsource bridge inspections

ND Tourism

North Dakota’s Department of Transportation is contracting with consultants to perform bridge inspections.

"With the federal bridge inspection requirements, there's more detail and reporting that's required," said DOT State Bridge Engineer John Ketterling. "That will take increased staff time."

Ketterling said historically, the inspections have been performed by staff in the eight DOT districts in the state.

"They also have another duty," Ketterling said. "That's construction inspections for our road projects."

Ketterling said the road and bridge inspections occur at the same time, normally spring through fall.

"With those increased requirements, we had to decide as a state what our priority is," Ketterling said.

Ketterling said the consultants will take over local bridge inspections. Those are required for bridges over 20 feet long. He said the proposal for the state bridge inspections will mean four dedicated bridge inspectors to concentrate on the state system.

"But we know that's not an adequate number to perform all the bridge inspections," Ketterling said. "We will also use consultants to help out."

Ketterling said the plan is to hire one consultant per region.

Bridges must be inspected every 24 months. Ketterling said half are done each year.

"We have roughly 5000 bridges in the state," Ketterling said. "About 2500 are inspected each year."

Ketterling said the state spent roughly $700,000 per year to inspect bridges. He said with the new requirements, those costs will go up.

"These inspection metrics were put in place across the country to maintain a safe network of bridges," Ketterling said. "First and foremost, we need to make sure we always keep the bridges in a safe condition, whether in the state system or the local system."

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