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Office of Bridge Programs



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 "Intermodal Mobility, Safety & Security"



Mission Statement

To administer the various bridge statutes, environmental laws of the United States, pertinent regulations and policies in a timely, courteous, responsive and professional manner. This mission will contribute to the development of a safer, more efficient and convenient marine and land transportation system that will effectively utilize and conserve the nation's resources in a cost efficient manner, while providing for the well-being, general safety, security, and interests of the citizens of the United States.


In 1967, the Bridge Program was transferred from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Coast Guard within the Department of Transportation. On 28 February 2003, the Coast Guard became an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.  The Coast Guard is responsible for approval of the location and plans of bridges and causeways constructed across navigable waters of United States In addition, the Coast Guard is responsible for approval of the location and plans of international bridges and the alteration of bridges found to be unreasonable obstructions to navigation. Authority for these actions is found in in the following laws: 33 U.S.C 401, 491, 494, 511-524, 525 and 535a, 535b, 535c, 535e, 535f, 535g, and 535h (Note: these are all separate sections, not subsections of 535). Section 535 and following is popularly known as the International Bridge Act of 1972. The Implementing regulations are found in Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations Parts 114 through 118.


The Coast Guard monitors and ensures approximately 20,000 bridges crossing navigable waters of the United States are not unreasonable obstructions to navigation.  As projects are undertaken to replace aging bridges or to modify bridges to meet changing navigational needs, such as raising the bridge deck to accommodate new post-Panamax vessels, more bridge permit applications are being submitted to the Coast Guard for review and approval.  The Bridge Program carries out this responsibility by executing four functional areas:

  • Permitting – issuing permits for construction or alteration of bridges over navigable waters.

  • Regulation – ensuring the operation of movable bridges meet the reasonable needs of navigation, and that all bridges are properly marked and lit to facilitate safe passage of vessels beneath.

  • Monitoring construction/maintenance/repair operations – coordinate waterway activities to ensure minimal impact to navigation. 

  • Alteration – identifying bridges that are “unreasonable obstructions to navigation” as defined by the Truman-Hobbs Act, and ensuring that unused/abandoned bridges are removed.  Review, inspection, and management of design and construction contracts when the federal government is the primary source of funding through the Truman-Hobbs program.

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