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Researchers Develop Press Brake-Formed Bridge

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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The first development of a press-brake-formed steel tub girder bridge in West Virginia is on its way up.

Erection of the bridge—developed by the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance and the West Virginia Department of Highways, along with Greg Michaelson, an assistant professor of engineering at Marshall University—began last week (Aug. 20) in Lincoln County, West Virginia, with crews slated to continue work through November.

Bridge Technology

“We are very excited that one of the Marshall University engineering division faculty, Dr. Gregory Michaelson, can be a part of the process of testing bridge girders as they are being built into the bridge structure for the State of West Virginia,” said Asad Salem, Engineering Division Chair, Marshall University.

Previously, Michaelson assisted on an award-winning, short-span bridge project in Ohio. Also a press-brake tub girder structure, the bridge was reportedly the first to utilize the SPS Deck system, providing an all-steel solution that aided in avoiding long road closures. In 2018, the bridge received a Technological Advancement Award from the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

According to the university’s press release, Michaelson is no stranger to the technology, as he has been working with Karl Barth of West Virginia University for the last six years in conducting extensive research on press-brake-formed steel tub girder systems. Their work together includes development, design, experimental testing, field evaluations, feasibility and economic studies.

For this most recent project however, Michaelson, alongside SSSBA and WVDOH, assisted in research and development of the innovative technology used to create the 58-foot-span Fourteen Mile Bridge.

The team’s girder system consists of galvanized shallow trapezoidal boxes fabricated from cold-bent structural steel plates, where a concrete deck is then precast onto the girder.

The process not only saves time and costs for bridge owners, as it can be installed in as little as two days and is transportable as a single modular unit, but the system also has an estimated 100-year lifespan that requires minimal maintenance.

“If you find [a] way to make short-span bridges more economical, you save taxpayers a lot of money,” Michaelson said.

“WVU and Marshall came together on this, and it was great that we produced something that is actually being used. As a researcher, you hope that your work has a direct impact. There are going to be folks driving over this every day, so there’s a real benefit.”

What’s Happening Now

While the project continues through the fall, SSSBA’s Bridge Technology Center will be overseeing the construction of the Fourteen Mile Bridge.

Michaelson is also reported to be continuing his research on the girder systems, in hopes that he can make the short-span steel bridge design more economical and efficient. The SSSBA also continues to keep bridge owners and designers up to date on the technology, latest innovations and benefits of short-span steel installations up to 140 feet in length.

Of the United States' 600,000 bridges, more than 90% are reported to be short-span bridges that stretch under 150 feet in length, according to Michaelson.

“We envision the PBTG system as the future of short span steel bridge design,” Michaelson said. “West Virginia is the fifth state in the U.S. to implement this new system, along with Iowa, Ohio, Michigan and Texas. We commend the WVDOH for recognizing its potential and ORDERS Construction Company for turning our dream into reality.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Colleges and Universities; Girder; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Roads/Highways; Structural steel

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (8/28/2019, 12:09 PM)

Interesting evolution of the tub girder design. We've had a decent history with them here in Canada (not necessarily with press-brake formed steel tubs). Can I infer that the steel construction guide in the US is now accepting hollow structural steel (circular, square or other shaped members, other than just I-beams) as acceptable? For a long while, it wasn't.


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