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Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse: A Statement from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT)

1 February 2022


COLUMBUS, OHIO (1 February 2022) -- The recent collapse of a bridge in Pittsburgh illustrates the wisdom of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which provides $1.2 trillion for improvements in America’s infrastructure. Major improvements to bridges, roads and mechanical systems are clearly needed.

Yet the new legislation continues the federal government practice of affording states wide latitude in how they prioritize projects. Too often, this results in an increased emphasis on new high-profile projects while maintenance of what is already in place is minimized.

If this is going to be the case, then even before new projects are undertaken, a significant commitment to enhanced testing and structural evaluation must be mounted to avoid failures similar to what occurred in Pittsburgh. New construction requires a great deal of time. Meanwhile, older structures remain in service perpetuating ongoing risks in the absence of thorough, sophisticated, yet readily available testing and evaluation.

A class of technologies referred to as Nondestructive Testing (NDT) provides an immediate option for structural assessment. NDT is a process of inspecting, testing, or evaluating materials, components, or assemblies – such as bridges - for discontinuities, or differences in characteristics without destroying the serviceability of the part or system. In other words, when NDT testing is performed, a clear and unambiguous assessment of the integrity of a structure is obtained.

It is unknown if the Pittsburgh bridge was evaluated using visual inspection, which is all that is required by law, but its failure demonstrates the need for similar structures to be evaluated using more advanced methods such as NDT. Additionally, certification using the type of definitive documentation extensively required in NDT protocols, are severely lacking in the in-service bridge inspection industry’s specifications and standards.

To better understand and clearly document the structural integrity of America’s bridges, a more urgent commitment to the application of nondestructive testing is required.

The American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) stands ready to assist government officials and others who will be assessing future preventative measures in their efforts to ensure similar failures can be avoided.

About ASNT

Serving more than 22 000 members and certificate holders worldwide, ASNT, based in Columbus, Ohio, is the largest technical society for NDT professionals. ASNT certification and standards programs, publications, conferences, education, membership, and professional development programs are the foundation for expanding awareness of advancements in NDT. Governed by a volunteer group of officers and directors, ASNT is organized by councils representing interests relating to certification, engineering, research, education, and section operations.


For questions about this statement, email ASNT Marketing and Communication Director Garra Liming at