About the research
Minnesota has more than 2,000 bridges that contain structural timber in the superstructure or the substructure. Historically, inspections for timber bridges have been mostly limited to visual inspection, hammer sounding and probing. These techniques have proven appropriate for advanced decay detection, but are inadequate for early stage or internal deterioration. During this project, new advanced inspection techniques and equipment were identified that were capable of improving the quality of timber bridge inspection. This equipment and technologies were introduced into routine bridge inspections through the development of standard inspection protocols, integration of the results into bridge data management software, development of a customized inspection manual, outreach training for MnDOT districts and state counties, recommendation of equipment purchases, and completion of an economic assessment on the use of advanced inspection techniques. Implementation of these inspection techniques will support the long-term service life of Minnesota’s timber bridges and will improve the safety and reliability of Minnesota’s bridges.