• DamsMonitoring dams to protect waterfront communities

    Out of the approximately 90,000 dams in the United States, roughly 90 percent are state, municipal, or privately owned. Because the likelihood of a dam failure is expected to be minimal, communities and property owners surrounding dams might easily embrace their land as any other lake-side or ocean-side residence. The truth, however, is that if these dams were to fail, the volume and force of water could compare to a small tsunami affecting nearby towns and residences.

  • DamsSaving billions by removing dams rather than repairing them

    A new study finds billions of dollars could be saved if the nation’s aging dams are removed rather than repaired, but also suggests that better data and analysis is needed on the factors driving dam-removal efforts. Experts say that repairing and upgrading the 2,170 most high-hazard dams would cost $45 billion, and that shoring up all of the U.S. dams which need repairing would cost $64 billion. But removing the 36,000 most decrepit dams would cost only $25.1 billion.

  • InfrastructureChina’s trillion-dollar infrastructure program “riskiest environmental project in human history”

    Experts say that China’s plan to crisscross half of the Earth with massive transportation and energy projects is environmentally the riskiest venture ever undertaken. The experts urged China to undertake rigorous strategic planning before embarking on its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which will ultimately span at least 64 nations across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific region.

  • InfrastructureNew algorithm could add more life to bridges

    Many authorities and organizations use structural health monitoring systems to keep track of the health of bridges, along with the weight of the traffic that it withstands on a day-to-day basis. A new algorithm developed could help structural engineers better monitor the health of bridges and alert them to when they need repair faster.

  • InfrastructureUsing fungi for self-healing concrete to fix bridges

    America’s crumbling infrastructure has been a topic of ongoing discussion in political debates and campaign rallies. The problem of aging bridges and increasingly dangerous roads is one that has been well documented and there seems to be a consensus from both democrats and republicans that something must be done. Researchers propose using fungi for self-healing concrete — a low-cost, pollution-free, and sustainable approach to shoring up U.S. infrastructure.

  • InfrastructureTimber bridges viable option for low-traffic local roads

    Glulam timber bridges are viable and cost-effective options for replacing bridges on low-traffic county and township roads. Glulam, short for glued laminated, means the structural members are made of layers of wood strips bonded with glue. A timber bridge would provide alternatives to conventional precast double-tee bridges, giving counties and townships more options when designing a new bridge or replacing an old one.

  • InfrastructureTesting bridges for safety after major hurricanes

    After Hurricane Irma hit, there was a major concern about South Florida’s bridges, mainly the ones in the Florida Keys. Would the structures be safe to cross for drivers anxious to get back home? Would relief efforts be impaired due to damage caused by massive winds? Fortunately, all forty-two bridges that connect the mainland to the Keys were inspected and declared safe by Monroe County officials. If another major hurricane like Irma hits South Florida, researchers and engineers shares an easy and cost-effective way to test a bridge for safety.

  • InfrastructureBridges and roads as important to your health as what’s in your medicine cabinet

    By Korydon Smith

    Two seemingly unrelated national policy debates are afoot, and we can’t adequately address one unless we address the other. Health care reform has been the hottest topic. What to do about America’s aging infrastructure has been less animated but may be more pressing. What if a solution to bridging both the political and sectoral divides between health care and infrastructure was, literally, a bridge? Sure, bridges are core elements of infrastructure, but what do bridges have to do with health care? As it turns out, a lot. Moving the health care debate to a discussion on infrastructure might accomplish two vital needs. It might advance the health care debate by both walking away from the current gridlock and approaching the destination from a fresh perspective. It might also advance public health by making America’s highways, neighborhoods and water systems safer, mediating the risks of health care and bridge collapses.

  • InfrastructureA floating tunnel could withstand an explosion

    Concrete can tolerate much more force that previously believed, which could open the door to a new kind of road structure: a floating tunnel. The E39 is a nearly 1100-km long coastal road that crosses seven major fjords by use of ferries. Norwegian authorities are working to improve the road by eliminating ferry crossings, which in addition to being costly, mean that drivers have to wait for ferries if they don’t arrive at the crossing at exactly the right time. Norwegian engineers are examining an entirely new type of water crossing: submerged floating tunnels.

  • Infrastructure protectionProtecting the world’s longest floating bridge from strong wind

    The Bjørnafjord crossing in Norway will become the longest floating bridge in the world, that is, a bridge where the vertical load is supported by floating pontoons. In order to build the bridge, the engineers need to know exactly how the wind behaves on the bridge site. Scientists are working on a new method for wind measurements.

  • InfrastructureRisk of collapse: U.S. bridges more vulnerable than previously thought

    The United States is considering a $1 trillion budget proposal to update infrastructure, including its crumbling bridges. An obstacle to spending the money wisely is that the current means of assessing bridges may underestimate their vulnerability. Studying how and why bridges have collapsed in the past identifies the limitation of current risk assessment approach and demonstrates the value of new perspectives on climate change impact.

  • DamsLessons from the Oroville Dam incident

    U.S. dams and levees received a grade of “D” in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 report card on national infrastructure, meaning they are in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many components near the end of their service life. Experts examining the recent Oroville dam incident in California, say that the massive hole in the dam’s primary spillway and excessive erosion in the emergency spillway, along with a levee breach near Manteca, “clearly demonstrate how extreme events, land-cover and land-use changes, and the emerging climatic changes can threaten the integrity of our aging dams and levees.”

  • InfrastructureOur crumbling infrastructure

    By Christina Pazzanese

    The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the nation’s highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment spending, including $479.1 billion in critically needed repairs. More than two-thirds of the nation’s roads and nearly 143,000 bridges are classified in “dire need” of repair or upgrades. U.S. ports are clogged and need dredging to improve the flow of goods; railroad tracks need modernizing; airport communications technology needs updating and expansion; and urban mass transit is old and inadequate. As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core; here are the likely smooth roads and potholes ahead.

  • Infrastructure protectionMood ring materials offer a new way to detect damage in failing infrastructure

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that more than $3.6 trillion in investment is needed by 2020 to rehabilitate and modernize the nation’s failing infrastructure. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to establish a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program when he takes office. An important element in any modernization effort will be the development of new and improved methods for detecting damage in these structures before it becomes critical. This is where “mood ring materials’ comes in. “Mood ring materials” could play an important role in minimizing and mitigating damage to the U.S. failing infrastructure.

  • Infrastructure protectionImproving Pennsylvania bridges

    According to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2015 National Bridge Inventory, of the 22,783 bridges in Pennsylvania, 21 percent are classified as structurally deficient and another 19 percent are classified as functionally obsolete. Researchers conducted a study to identify the key factors that contribute to premature cracking in concrete bridge decks. The team also assessed the effects of the cracks on the long-term durability of the bridges.