HDR Expert Explains Rope Access Inspection's Impact on Bridge Asset Management and Design

Erin O'Malley
Erin O'Malley, P.E.

Regular bridge inspections are critical to keeping structures in good condition, and rope access inspections provide a valuable option for owners as they perform this vital asset management. These inspections can be less invasive than conventional methods and are sometimes the only option for bridges that are older, more remote or those with weight limits.

In the latest interview from HDR’s Experts Talk series, Erin O’Malley, P.E., shares why bridge owners turn to rope access inspections, why the special skill is still needed in an era of new technology such as drones and how the practice is changing bridge design.

O’Malley is HDR’s industrial rope access leader for bridges and structures, coordinating a national team of inspectors that work on bridges across North America. She’s worked on hundreds of structures and provided her expertise on iconic bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Bayonne Bridge in New York/New Jersey and the Shenandoah River Crossing in West Virginia.

She shared how rope access inspections are doing more than maintaining bridge inventory; they’re opening new options for the design of new bridges.

“As clients realize that rope access inspection is an option, they understand they can plan for it, and as a result they can design large signature bridges differently. This has big implications for structures where aesthetics are a high priority. Instead of covering a bridge in catwalks, designers can decide upfront that they’ll inspect via rope access down the road,” O’Malley said. “It makes it very attractive from an aesthetic point of view. With rope access in their pocket, designers and owners can know they’ll still be able to reach every nook and cranny, but still preserve the look they want.”

Read the whole interview on bridge asset management through rope access inspections.

HDR’s Experts Talk interview series shines a light on various aspects of transportation infrastructure design and delivery. Each subject matter expert offers unique expertise and insights about new and ongoing trends, emerging technologies and the human side of infrastructure.

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