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Project Team:

Jerry O'Connor

Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering;
University at Buffalo



New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT)


Post-Earthquake Bridge Inspection Procedures

Extreme events in recent years have made us more aware that disaster can strike at any time. New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) funded research to develop guidance for their managers who will need to oversee bridge inspections in the event of an earthquake. They will need to send out teams in an expeditious yet logical fashion that utilizes resources efficiently while attending to the most critical structures first.

Inspection teams are typically made up of both DOT and consultant engineers. If they are trained ahead of time and equipped with written guidelines they will be ready to conduct post-earthquake bridge inspections when the need arises. Although there will be pressure to do these inspections as quickly as possible, it is necessary that they be done in a safe manner, that they meet Department standards, and that they be done consistently from one team to another.

Using a proposed Earthquake Response Action Plan, state and local bridge owners will know how to implement a post-event bridge inspection program. Managers and inspection teams will have the necessary knowledge and aids to prioritize their work, assess bridge damage and suggest specific repairs.


Post-Earthquake Bridge Inspection Guidelines, by J.S. O'Connor and S. Alampalli; MCEER-12-0003; 6/8/2012; 176 pages; $30

This report presents some background on earthquakes and their potential impact on highway bridges. There are recommended procedures that can be relied upon if inspectors are deployed after an earthquake. The guidance is tailored to New York’s organizational structure but may also be applicable to other agencies such as local municipalities, bridge authorities and other states. Sample reporting forms are provided, as are post-earthquake repair procedures for bridges.


Preparing for the Unexpected: Post-Earthquake Bridge Inspection Guidelines for New York State, (3.35 MB) Association for Bridge Construction and Design (ABCD) 2012 Technical Conference, November 9, 2012, Buffalo, NY