Fundamentals of Railway Bridge Engineering and Management

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Course Overview

In this course, you will learn how to better manage your own bridges and why compliance with FRA 237 is so important. Learn how to determine a bridge’s load capacity, and get the latest information on bridge inspection requirements, along with penalties and waivers. Work examples and case studies will also be discussed.

Who Should Attend?

  • Railroad engineers, managers, and supervisors
  • Bridge engineers, inspectors, and supervisors
  • Railroads, consultants, contractors, and agencies
  • Anyone who owns a bridge with railroad track, or has been assigned responsibility for operating and maintaining a bridge with track on it

Additional Information

Please bring a calculator to this course.

Course Outline


  • Railroad vs. highway bridges
  • AREMA overview
  • Railroad bridge structures
  • Railroad structure types: timber, steel, concrete, stone, combination, movable
  • FRA 237

Bridge Superstructure

  • Criteria for superstructure type section
  • Bridge deck types
  • Steel and concrete superstructure

Bridge Substructure

  • Criteria for substructure type selection
  • Foundation types
  • Pile foundations
  • Drilled shaft foundations
  • Retaining walls
  • Abutments

Design Code and Load Generation

  • Live load
  • Impact
  • Dead load
  • Centrifugal force
  • Lateral loads from equipment
  • Longitudinal force
  • Environmental loads
  • Load combinations

General Information of FRA 237 Rule

  • Responsibility for compliance
  • Definitions
  • Penalties and waivers

Railroad Bridge Safety Assurance

  • Adoption of a bridge management program
  • Content of a bridge management program

Qualifications and Designations of Responsible Persons

  • Railroad bridge engineers, inspectors, and supervisors
  • Designation of individuals

Bridge Capacity

  • Determination of bridge load capacities
  • Protection of bridges from overweight and over-dimensional loads

Bridge Inspection

  • Scheduling bridge inspections
  • Bridge inspection procedures
  • Special inspections
  • Conduct of bridge inspections
  • Bridge inspection records
  • Review of bridge inspection records

Drones for Bridge Inspection

Bridge Repair and Modification

  • Design
  • Supervision of repairs and modifications


"This program explained FRA 237, bridge inspection and management, and bridge management plans. This will help implement our BMP."
—Christopher R. Ward, Massachusetts Bay Commuter RR

"Walter and Chris did a great job overall. I would be interested in taking more classes from them."
—Brian Mueller, Ames Construction, Inc.

"Excellent course, good information, examples, and explanations."
—Anna Davey, Wisconsin DOT


Walter Bleser

Walt Bleser, PE, is president of SENSR Monitoring Technologies, LLC. Prior to SENSR, he served as the director of Railway Asset Management for GREX (Georgetown Rail Equipment), working with railroads and transit agencies nationwide to integrate tie, ballast, and bridge management practices. Previously a movable bridge manager for a nationally renowned design firm, Walt has more than 10 years of bridge inspection, rating, design, and construction management experience. He is an active participant in AREMA, current serving as the vice chairman of Committee 7 and as a subcommittee chairman of Committee 10, aiding in the production of the organization’s Bridge Management Best Practices.

Christian Brown

Chris Brown, PE, Vice President and Project Director for HNTB Corporation, is a Railroad Bridge and Movable Bridge Project Manager for HNTB’s Kansas City office, where he is involved in a wide variety of railroad and movable bridge design projects. Brown is active in several technical and professional organizations, including AREMA, where he is a member of Technical Committee 15 on Steel Design of Railway Structures. Brown serves as HNTB’s National Director of Movable Bridges and is also a member of the firm’s Rail and Public Transit Service Group Committee as the Central Division Representative.

Dave Peterson

Dave is the Program Director for the University of WisconsinMadison Railroad Engineering and Operations Program. The program consists of 12 courses conducted annually on topics ranging from introduction to railroad engineering and operations to signaling, bridges, crossings, and traction power.

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Dave Peterson


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