In the interest of safety and welfare of the public, bridge inspection is a legislated requirement for all bridge structures traveled by the public. Moreover, regular bridge inspection is an integral part of an effective bridge maintenance program. The general objective of a bridge inspection is to detect and monitor the condition of a bridge structure, including its foundations, structural elements and connections, appurtenances, and adjacent features or elements thereof that could potentially affect the condition of the structure.

The 2011 annual inspection of the Rainbow, Whirlpool Rapids and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges for the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) was conducted in accordance with standard engineering practice and, when applicable, in accordance with the New York State Department of Transportation bridge inspection procedures, and the Canadian International Bridges and Tunnels Act. The bridges were inspected by a team of engineers from Hardesty & Hanover, LLP (H&H) headquartered in New York City, and the original designers of the Rainbow and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges.

Utilizing underbridge inspection units, and by climbing and walking, H&H inspection personnel performed a Biennial Inspection of the Rainbow and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges, following New York State Bridge Inspection guidelines. A Biennial Inspection requires inspection personnel to perform a ‘hands-on’ inspection of critical areas of the bridges every two years. This means that H&H personnel got an up close view of all structural elements crucial to the continued successful operation of the bridges. A New York State Biennial Inspection Report has been filed with the New York State Department of Transportation to fulfill the 2011 Biennial Inspection requirement for each bridge.

In addition, a general inspection was performed at the Whirlpool Rapids Upper and Lower Level Bridges. In 2012, H&H will return to perform a full ‘hands-on’ inspection of the entire bridge. Also, ultrasonic testing will be performed on all the truss span pins.

Overall, the Rainbow, Whirlpool Rapids and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges are in good condition and are well-maintained by NFBC personnel on a regular basis. Nothing was noted during the inspection that might affect the safety of the traveling public or Niagara Falls Bridge Commission personnel utilizing the bridge or those passing below it. With continued excellent maintenance and periodic minor repairs, all three bridges can be expected to provide the service that those in the Niagara region have come to expect.

Hardesty & Hanover is a world renowned bridge engineering firm with over 120 years of experience in engineering enduring structures. Their project portfolio includes the inspection and design of major bridges, highways, expressways, and heavy movable structures worldwide. With a diverse staff of structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, Hardesty & Hanover prides itself in delivering unsurpassed efficiency and experience on infrastructure inspection and design projects.