To get a feel for what inspectors go through
working 500 feet about the Rio Grande Gorge,
visit website here or scan the QR code at the right.
Structures like the Gorge Bridge
have a steel member in tension,
or with a tension element, whose
failure could cause a portion or the
entire structure to collapse.
NMSU hired Ayres Associates as
a subconsultant to inspect the
bottom chord using rope access.
The steel deck arch bridge, about
12 miles northwest of Taos, was
built in 1965 and just celebrated
its 50th birthday shortly before the
NMSU team performed its work.
The bridge is 1,200 feet long with
two 300-foot-long end spans and
a 600-foot-long main center span.
The structure received a $2.4
million makeover in 2012 that
included repairing and restoring
structural steelwork and adding
a new concrete deck surface,
sidewalks, ramps, curbs, and
“There are places here in New
Mexico that are quite beautiful,
but this location is special,” said
Ken White, professor emeritus
at NMSU and founder of the
University’s bridge inspection
He should know. White has been
inspecting this bridge and dozens
more in New Mexico since the
early 1970s when the National
Bridge Inspections Program began.
It took as much as 10 weeks
to complete the Gorge Bridge
inspection in the early days, White
said. The effort now takes about a
week thanks to more sophisticated
equipment and inspector skill sets.
“It still gets your heart going,” said
White, who spends much of his
time now examining the bridge