• Infrastructure protectionTechnology assesses bridge safety after powerful storms

    Hurricanes and heavy rains often cause strong, overflowing river currents that can damage critical infrastructure, such as bridges. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, many National Guard convoys loaded with aid did not drive on bridges for fear the bridges could not support the heavy trucks. To safely transport, they had to use roundabout roads or boats to reach Katrina survivors. Loose or loosening soil is often the culprit in weakening bridge stability. Thus, an instrument that can quickly assess the soil conditions around bridge pillars is a top priority.

  • BridgesA bridge over the Strait of Gibraltar? New bridge forms span farther

    A bridge’s span is the distance of suspended roadway between towers, with the current world record standing at just under 2km. Newly identified bridge forms could enable significantly longer bridge spans to be achieved in the future, potentially making a crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar, from the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco, feasible.

  • DamsUsing Artificial Intelligence to locate risky dams

    By Sarah Fecht

    In the U.S., 15,498 of the more than 88,000 dams in the country are categorized as having high hazard potential—meaning that if they fail, they could kill people. As of 2015, some 2,000 of these high hazard dams are in need of repair. With a hefty price tag estimated at around $20 billion, those repairs aren’t going to happen overnight.

  • DamsUsing Artificial Intelligence to locate risky dams

    By Sarah Fecht

    In the U.S., 15,498 of the more than 88,000 dams in the country are categorized as having high hazard potential—meaning that if they fail, they could kill people. As of 2015, some 2,000 of these high hazard dams are in need of repair. With a hefty price tag estimated at around $20 billion, those repairs aren’t going to happen overnight.

  • InfrastructureGenoa bridge collapse: maintaining these structures is a constant battle against traffic and decay

    By Marios Chryssanthopoulos

    As rescue workers look for survivors in the concrete rubble that used to be part of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italian authorities are starting their investigation into the possible causes behind this terrible tragedy. It is too early to determine what may have caused the catastrophic collapse of more than 100 meters of the multi-span, cable-stayed suspension bridge, completed just over 50 years ago. But it’s important to understand that bridge engineering does not end when construction finishes and traffic starts to flow. In fact, properly looking after a bridge during its long life is as crucial as having a good design, using high-quality materials, and ensuring sound workmanship during construction.

  • Bridge collapseQuestions and anxiety in Italy over Genoa bridge collapse

    In the wake of the deadly Morandi Bridge collapse in Genoa, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called for “all infrastructure” in Italy to be checked. Investigators is still trying to determine the cause of the collapse. Italian rescue workers worked through the night and into the morning in search for survivors. A 100-meter section of the Morandi Bridge, affectionally called Genoa’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” collapsed during a heavy rain storm on Tuesday causing dozens of vehicles to plunge some 45 meters.

  • InfrastructureSmarter, safer bridges with Sandia sensors

    In 2016, more than 54,000 bridges in the U.S. were classified as “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. This means about 9 percent of U.S. bridges need regular monitoring. Researchers outfitted a U.S. bridge with a network of eight real-time sensors able to alert maintenance engineers when they detect a crack or when a crack reaches a length that requires repair.

  • 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.