In the afternoon on March 15, 2018, news outlets across the country reported a bridge collapse on a college campus in Florida. Crossing a major roadway, a span on a recently-erected pedestrian bridge failed, causing a section of the bridge to fall onto traffic below, crushing vehicles underneath and leading to several causalities. In the wake of this tragedy, officials at Morgan State University took a proactive approach to ensure the safety of their students and the surrounding community by enlisting KCI to inspect and evaluate six pedestrian bridges on campus.
Regular inspections are a requirement for many of our nation’s bridges; however, the National Bridge Inspection Standards do not apply to structures that carry only pedestrians. Instead, bridge owners are encouraged to inspect and maintain these structures. However, with no reporting requirements in place, it is up to the owner to decide whether to inspect each crossing and how often.
Understanding the importance of maintaining their existing bridge infrastructure, Morgan State asked our inspection team to review the existing as-built plans and maintenance and repair records for each structure, conduct inspections, and prepare bridge condition reports.
“Morgan works to be proactive in ensuring the safety of its campus and maintaining the confidence of its staff, faculty and students,” said Kim McCalla, Morgan State University’s Associate Vice President of Facilities Design and Construction Management. “Morgan is pleased to be working with KCI.”
KCI’s two-person inspection team used a variety of equipment to inspect each of the six bridges. For the University’s Welcome Bridge, which crosses over a major city street and connects the school’s academic quad to the main campus, a boom-lift facilitated access to each of the bridge’s spans. On the 400-foot-long Communications Bridge, which runs through a heavily wooded and steeply sloped area, inspectors used a specialized sidewalk tracker unit to reach over and under the sides of the bridge. This lighter, custom-made access vehicle fit within the limited width of walkway while still providing the reach needed to inspect the bridge.
Following the completion of the inspections, KCI engineers prepared a report of their findings with recommendations for maintenance or repairs if needed. Inspectors also recommended a future routine inspection schedule for each bridge.
As a graduate from Morgan State, I'm proud to know that my alma mater is truly invested in maintaining the structural integrity of its infrastructure. It's rewarding to put my education to use on campus.
Jean Kubwayo, EITStructural Engineer and Bridge Inspector
Morgan State strives to support, empower and prepare its students to lead in the world. Providing a safe space for students to achieve this success is one of its highest priorities. These regular inspections help maintain an accurate knowledge of the condition of the campus’s pedestrian bridges and provide confidence in the public’s safe use of the structures.