National Bridge Inspection Program Review

The FHWA developed and implemented the current review process to evaluate a state's bridge inspection program for compliance with NBIS in 2011 as currently required by 23 U.S.C. 144(h)(4)(A).   Each FHWA Division office annually assesses the State's compliance with 23 individual metrics which are directly aligned with the existing NBIS regulation.  The metrics, or measures, are designed to assess the quality and performance of each State's bridge inspection program and, collectively, the national program that has been established to assure highway bridges are safe.

The risk-based assessment process followed during this annual assessment utilizes objective data, employs statistical sampling of data and inspection records, and includes defined criteria for compliance for each metric.  States are notified by FHWA of any findings of noncompliance no later than December 31.  In accordance with the requirements of 23 U.S.C. 144 as established by MAP-21, within 45 days of the FHWA notification of noncompliance, the state will correct the issue of noncompliance or submit to FHWA a Plan of Corrective Action (PCA) which outlines how noncompliant findings will be addressed.   The FHWA will have 45 days for review, comment, and if appropriate accept the PCA.  Final compliance determinations by FHWA are to be made no later than March 31.  This annual process allows the FHWA to assess NBIS compliance by each state's bridge inspection program and implement any required penalties in a nationally consistent manner.

The description and criteria for evaluating the inspection program is described in FHWA’s NBIS Oversight Program, Metrics for the Oversight of the National Bridge Program. Each of the 23 metrics are annually assessed and assigned one of four compliance levels: 

Compliant:  Adhering to the NBIS regulation.

Substantially Compliant:  Adhering to the NBIS regulation with minor deficiencies. These deficiencies do not adversely affect the overall effectiveness of the program and are isolated in nature.  Documented deficiencies are provided to the State with the expectation that they will be corrected within 12 months or less, unless the deficiencies are related to issues that would most efficiently be corrected during the next inspection.  A written response to the FHWA describing the expected corrective action is required.

Noncompliant:  Not adhering to the NBIS regulation. Identified deficiencies may adversely affect the overall effectiveness of the program. Failure to adhere to an approved PCA is also considered noncompliance. 

Conditionally Compliant:  Taking corrective action in conformance With an FHWA approved PCA to achieve compliance with the NBIS. Deficiencies, if not corrected, may adversely affect the overall effectiveness of the program.

The following 2014 review summaries related to inspection timeliness provide additional details:

Metric 6: Inspection frequency - Routine - Lower Risk Bridges

Metric 7: Inspection frequency - Routine - Higher Risk Bridges

Metric 8: Inspection frequency - Underwater - Lower Risk Bridges

Metric 9: Inspection frequency - Underwater - Higher Risk Bridges

Metric 10: Inspection frequency - Fracture Critical Member