Research Team Assesses TX Bridge Performance
The Texas Department of Transportation recently awarded a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington a $997,275 grant to review the performance of deteriorating and aging highway bridges.
According to a release from the university, civil engineering professor Nur Yazdani and his team will work to determine the condition of bridges, deciding which are in need of repair and what repairs are needed.
Bridge Evaluation Details
The evaluation will reportedly involve non-destructive evaluation (NDE), on-site load testing and computer simulation.
Tasks for this project reportedly include studying hybrid steel and concrete girder bridges and the partial composite action in prestressed concrete I-girder bridges. When existing concrete and steel girder bridges need additional lanes, TxDOT reportedly makes them wider by adding steel girders.
However, new girders could potentially contain different characteristics from the old girders and could flex and wear differently, causing differential deflections, cracking and safety issues. Yazdani stated that he plans to study these problems on specific bridges to look for ways to address any deterioration.
“The federal infrastructure bill has given TxDOT and local governments significant funding to apply toward upkeep and evaluation of bridges. They want to ensure that they are using the funding wisely to identify bridges that might have issues,” Yazdani said.
“We are happy to apply our findings from current and previous work to help TxDOT ensure that Texas bridges are safe and usable for years to come.”
Previously, Yazdani’s team had reportedly performed NDE and load testing on existing prestressed concrete bridges with composite deck-girders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, finding that both new and old bridges can only work as partially composite, though they are designed as fully composite structures.
Yazdani stated that he and his team expect the new grant to help them review newly constructed bridges and determine how much composite action takes place between the deck and the girders during and after construction.
Yazdani added that he would then decide how to use materials, as well as design and construction modifications, to increase the composite action.
“Our work could have national implications because federal and state governments publish specifications and guidelines for bridge design, construction and maintenance,” he said.
“The overall area of bridge design, evaluation and maintenance is a highly critical and contemporary issue. I tell my students that they cannot go wrong with making a career out of bridge engineering, with the recent national focus and the plethora of jobs available for them in this area for the foreseeable future.”
Yazdani added that the project could have far-reaching effects on bridge infrastructure nationwide.
Recent UTA Research
In November, a researcher at UTA reportedly began working on the development of a price estimation and visualization tool for TxDOT to assess and price contracts for major infrastructure works.
According to the university’s release, Mohsen Shandashti, an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, was leading a team to develop the tool under a $200,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The release stated that the new research came from the idea that due to the state's size and diverse soil, this could cause supply chain delays, climate differences, material and labor cost differences, among others, when planning the budget for a highway project.
Shahandashti added that the varied soil is a great example of how different Texas is from other parts of the country.
Shahandashti reportedly plans to integrate any historical data with some factors affecting unit prices in order to provide more accurate estimates.
The release added that econometrics is a form of economics using economic theory and statistical and mathematical methods to study real-world data.
Melanie Sattler, chair and professor of the Department of Civil Engineering, said Shahandashti’s grant could make highways projects in Texas more efficient.