Bridges have been a critical link in transportation systems all over the world since time immemorial. Unfortunately, their existence is usually taken for granted, their physical condition ignored and their maintenance requirements loosely met until – a Silver Bridge catastrophe.
This calamity instigated renewed activity in the area of in-depth and cursory inspection of bridges and subsequently, their rehabilitation or replacement. However, due to many reasons, mostly financial, only an extremely small percentage of bridges throughout the nation have had the necessary attention.
Aggravating the situation, it has been found that bridges only recently constructed are already showing signs of wear and deterioration at an alarming rate. One of the primary causes of this rapid deterioration has been the use of de-icing salts. Much effort has been expended in trying to resolve this problem which is only one of many problems facing the entire bridge building community.
Anyone following the news of recent years is acutely aware that the topic of “bridges” is constantly being discussed. Not everyone, however, is aware of what is wrong, why, what can be done, and how to prevent further deterioration of this situation. Even worse is the fact that the governing bodies have not fully recognized that there is indeed a national bridge “crisis”.
According to the November, 2002 issue of Better Roads Magazine an inventory conducted on the nations 590,984 federal, state and local bridges indicates that 163,158 (27.6%) were substandard.
Realizing the bridge crisis, Mr. Nalin H. Udani, Bridge Engineer for PennDOT, initiated the idea of the Association for Bridge Construction and Design. Together with people working in the bridge industry, he formed a founding committee in June of 1976 to establish a constitution and make specific recommendations for starting the Association.
As a result, a group of interested educators, engineers, constructors and material suppliers was formed as an association for the purpose of attaining the following goals: