Statewide Structural Support Inspection Services

Location Statewide, Kentucky

Owner Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Client Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

  • Overhead Sign Structure Inspection
  • Structural Inspection
  • Signing Inventory
  • Structural Inventory
  • Ultrasonic Testing/Inspection
  • GIS Analysis/Mapping
  • Nondestructive Evaluation/Testing

Since 1991, under seven consecutive contracts, Lochner has been providing statewide inspection services for all overhead traffic sign trusses maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). In 2006, Lochner’s services were expanded to include the inspection of all KYTC‐maintained high‐mast lighting and traffic signal mast arm poles. Lochner was the first, and remains the only, firm to be awarded these inspection contracts. As of 2020, Lochner has performed over 7,000 inspections under these contracts and includes all sign supports, mast arm poles, and high‐mast lighting poles, each of which is inspected in five‐year intervals.

KYTC’s sign trusses are cantilevered, butterfly, dual support, or pipe‐type structures, fabricated of aluminum or galvanized steel. The installation dates range from the late 1950s to the present date. The structures are inspected by a minimum two‐person Lochner crew. One crew member ascends the support using rope access equipment and techniques. This inspector examines welds, connections, clamps, electrical details, bolts, and truss members across the entire structure for damage or substandard appearance. The other crew member remains at ground level and inspects the footing, anchor bolts, and other visible portions of the base. The inspections of the high‐mast lighting and mast arm pole structures are similar, but the inspectors remain on ground level and focus on assessing the anchor bolts and foundations, which have been the locations of structural problems in other states. In addition, Lochner documents these structures and assigns each a unique structure number to aid KYTC with inventory management, using a GIS system that Lochner custom‐designed for KYTC’s use on this project. Lochner performs all inspections over active traffic, without reducing the lane capacity of the roadway, which provides KYTC with considerable savings in traffic control costs.

The inspection results are entered into a database created by Lochner specifically for this project. Lochner also submits a comprehensive final letter report to the appropriate district and to the KYTC Division of Operations. The report details the findings of the district‐level inspections and makes recommendations for repair or replacement. Lochner performs minor repairs (such as bolt tightening) as needed during the inspection. Should a seriously damaged or deteriorated structure be located, Lochner submits a Structure Deficiency Report and, as soon as KYTC or the district have made the repair, reinspects the structure. Lochner provides KYTC with five‐year phased inspection plans to ensure that all structures are inspected on a regular schedule.

One of the major aspects of this inspection program was Lochner’s identification of critical weld cracking present in the vast majority of aluminum cantilever sign support trusses. On the basis of Lochner’s inspection results, KYTC replaced the worst of the cracked structures and changed its statewide sign support specifications, including a prohibition on the installation of further aluminum cantilever support structures.

Lochner has also assisted KYTC in the event of unanticipated outcomes, such as the 14 mast arm poles found in 2006 to have horizontal to vertical cracking at the connections. In this instance, Lochner worked with KYTC under an expedited schedule to develop a program of interim repairs that would rectify the issue and maintain safety standards. The poles were subsequently replaced, in accordance with Lochner’s recommendations.

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