Inspectors span Hawaii for testing of bridges

State and county contract with inspectors to meet federal mandates

News Star Bulletin February 01, 2008
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Hawaii state and county governments have contracted with bridge inspectors to meet federal mandates after becoming years behind in bridge inspections.

All U.S. bridges are supposed to be inspected every two years, but more than 45% of Hawaii’s bridges—around 500—had not been inspected in more than two years, according to the 2006 National Bridge Inventory.

Hawaii ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2006 as the only state with more than 30% of its bridges having gone without an inspection for more than two years, in violation of a federal mandate. And that problem had not been solved as of late last year, with more than 45% of the state's bridges not inspected up to federal guidelines, state Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said.

But the state hired bridge inspectors under contract in December 2007 “to step up the work,” so all bridges in the state will be inspected by Feb. 15, Ishikawa said. “It is fair to say we had a lack of manpower in keeping up with recent bridge inspections,” he said in a statement.

According to 2006 National Bridge Inventory statistics, 45% of Hawaii’s bridges are deficient or obsolete, and 13%, or 147, of Hawaii's bridges were deemed "structurally deficient," or in need of maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement.

Ishikawa said he believes that counties and the state will learn from past mishaps.

While neither the state nor counties have enough bridge inspectors, they will award contracts to bridge inspectors a little more quickly to meet federal guidelines, he said.

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