How McClain Can Help Make Your Next Bridge Maintenance Project Easier

With more than 615,000 highway bridges scattered across the United States – along with almost 100,000 railroad bridges – bridge maintenance is a constant endeavor.

There are numerous tasks that must be carried out both on a regular basis as well as periodically “as needed” when it comes to bridge maintenance. These include bridge repairs, road repairs, and even painting bridges. In addition to the work that can be categorized as “bridge maintenance” there are also regular and periodic inspections that are carried out on our highway bridges, as well.

Bridge Maintenance Projects are the Responsibility of Several Entities

Ultimately, it is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that is responsible for and provides stewardship over the construction, maintenance and preservation of the Nation’s highways, bridges and tunnels.

As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FHWA provides guidance, technical assistance, and funding for bridge maintenance programs. They develop policies, standards, and best practices related to bridge maintenance and work closely with state and local agencies to ensure effective maintenance practices are implemented.

However, the actual “hands on” work of bridge maintenance, for example, is not carried out by FHWA personnel.

Highway bridge maintenance in the United States involves multiple agencies and entities at different levels of government. Here are some of the key organizations responsible for carrying out bridge maintenance:

  1. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs): Each state has its own Department of Transportation responsible for maintaining and managing the state’s highway infrastructure, including bridges. State DOTs oversee bridge maintenance projects within their jurisdiction and allocate resources accordingly. They often have dedicated bridge maintenance divisions or units within their organizational structure.
  1. Local Transportation Agencies: County, municipal, and regional transportation agencies also play a role in bridge maintenance. They are responsible for maintaining bridges within their respective jurisdictions. These agencies may have their own maintenance crews or contract the work to private firms.
  1. Bridge Authorities: In some cases, specialized bridge authorities or commissions are established to oversee the maintenance and operation of specific bridges. Examples include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, responsible for bridges such as the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. These authorities have dedicated staff and resources to carry out maintenance projects on the bridges under their jurisdiction.
  1. Private Contractors: Bridge maintenance work is often contracted to private companies specializing in infrastructure maintenance and repair. State and local agencies may hire these contractors to perform routine inspections, cleaning, painting, and other maintenance tasks on highway bridges. These contractors bring expertise and equipment required for specific maintenance projects.

It’s important to note that the responsibilities and organization of bridge maintenance can vary from state to state and even within different local jurisdictions. The coordination and collaboration between these agencies and entities are crucial for effective and efficient bridge maintenance across the country.

Additionally, partnerships and collaborations may exist between different levels of government and private entities to ensure comprehensive bridge maintenance. This can involve sharing resources, expertise, and funding to address maintenance needs and improve the overall condition of highway bridges.

Paxton-Mitchell Snooper Truck Series 260 conducting bridge maintenance at the New River Gorge Bridge

Highway Bridge Maintenance Projects: The Work That Gets Done

Highway bridge maintenance projects play a vital role in ensuring the safety, longevity, and structural integrity of these critical infrastructure components. Regular maintenance activities help to prevent deterioration, address potential hazards, and extend the lifespan of highway bridges. Among the various maintenance projects conducted on a regular basis, the following are some of the most common ones:

  • Washing and cleaning: Regular washing and cleaning of highway bridges is essential to remove dirt, debris, and other contaminants that can accumulate over time. This maintenance activity not only enhances the aesthetic appearance of the bridge but also prevents the buildup of materials that can cause corrosion or damage to the structure.
  • Sealing deck joints: Highway bridges consist of multiple sections or decks, which are connected by joints. These joints are prone to wear and tear, allowing water, debris, and other substances to penetrate and potentially damage the bridge’s substructure. Sealing deck joints with appropriate materials helps to prevent water infiltration, corrosion, and the development of structural issues.
  • Clearing drainage areas: Effective drainage is crucial for the proper functioning and longevity of highway bridges. Maintenance crews regularly clear drainage areas, such as gutters, downspouts, and drains, to ensure they are free from debris and obstructions. This prevents the accumulation of water on the bridge, which can lead to corrosion, deterioration, and even structural instability.
  • Sealing cracks: Over time, highway bridges may develop cracks due to factors such as temperature fluctuations, heavy traffic loads, or natural wear. Promptly identifying and sealing these cracks is essential to prevent further damage and maintain the bridge’s structural integrity. Sealing cracks helps to prevent water infiltration, corrosion, and the progression of cracks into more significant structural issues.
  • Painting exposed elements: Highway bridges often have exposed steel or concrete elements that require protective coatings. Regular painting or applying appropriate protective coatings helps to prevent corrosion, rusting, and deterioration caused by environmental factors such as moisture, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and pollutants. Painting not only enhances the bridge’s appearance but also extends its lifespan by providing a protective barrier against the elements.

In addition to the above-mentioned maintenance projects, other common activities include inspecting bridge components, repairing or replacing damaged or deteriorated elements, monitoring, and reinforcing support structures, and conducting routine maintenance on mechanical and electrical systems, such as lighting and control mechanisms.

It is important to note that the specific maintenance projects conducted on highway bridges may vary depending on factors such as bridge design, age, location, and local regulations. Regular inspections and assessments are typically carried out to identify maintenance needs and determine the appropriate projects to be undertaken.

Overall, by regularly performing these common highway bridge maintenance projects, authorities can ensure the safety, functionality, and longevity of these vital transportation structures, providing a reliable and efficient road network for the public.

McClain and Company: Making Your Job Easier on Bridge Maintenance Projects

Tools and equipment are just as essential for quality bridge maintenance work as the personnel who do the work. And the quality and capability of those tools and equipment can help make the work easier when it comes to most bridge maintenance projects.

One of the major advantages of working with McClain & Co., Inc. for bridge maintenance projects is our deep understanding of the work, the industry, and the needs of those doing the work on bridges. We go out of our way to make your bridge maintenance projects easier.

As we’ve noted in several previous articles here, the reliable and efficient maintenance, repair, and inspections of our nation’s highway bridges and broader transportation infrastructure is critical. And the safety and integrity of the 600,000-plus highway bridges depends on those maintenance projects.

Which means that having professional bridge access and work equipment rentals is critical. In addition to making the work easier, our equipment ensures that DOTs, engineers, and contractors can depend on the safety, reliability, and affordability of our equipment rentals.

When it comes to routine work on maintenance or periodic repairs, it is essential that workers can rely on a professional and reputable source for their bridge inspection equipment rentals.

And for over two decades McClain and Company has continued to be that source.

75ft Underbridge Inspection Unit

McClain and Company: For the Best in Bridge Maintenance and Access Equipment

The team at McClain and Company has always worked hard to help make your work easier. And one of the ways we do this is to provide you with the best in bridge work rental equipment. And in addition to our high-quality and wide-ranging selection of equipment, we also provide the best in customer service.

For example, we are known throughout the transportation infrastructure industry for our great selection of under-bridge inspection equipment. But we offer so much more! McClain also offers a wide range of Hi-Rail trucks and equipment to ease your railway bridge maintenance projects. In addition, we provide a variety of other Utility and Aerial Equipment rentals. We also provide our customers with a variety of traffic safety and highway construction services.

So, if you have questions about our bridge access equipment rentals or our any of our other rental services, we invite you to contact McClain and Company today by calling us at 1.888.889.1284 or emailing us at [email protected]