• What tropical countries can teach the U.K. about flood management

    Climate change has caused a change in the patterns of rainfall in the United Kingdom: rather than a procession of predictable showers, a new type of rain emerged — localized storms, dropping a lot of water in one place over a short period of time; villages and towns were overwhelmed; tropical countries have had a long experience with the type of rainfall

  • Buildings made of prefabricated straw prove to be fire-resistant

    Researchers at Bath University test panels made from prefabricated straw-bale and hemp by exposing them to temperatures over 1,000°C; to reach the required building standard, the panels had to withstand the heat for more than thirty minutes, but more than two hours later — four times as long as required — the panels had still not failed

  • Oregon's bridges to be readied for the Big One

    There are 2,671 bridges in Oregon’s highway system; researchers develop a computer model which, for the first time, gives state authorities bridge-by-bridge estimates of damage, repair cost, and traffic delay costs associated with a shattering western Oregon quake; the new tool would allow engineers to prioritize which of the state’s bridges should get seismic upgrades

  • Worries about safety of California bridges with eyebar design

    Every so often the Bay Bridge closes because of widening eyebar crack; when the bridge opened seventy years ago, the design was considered safe, but structural engineers now say the eyebar design is an inherently unsafe; trouble is, dozens and dozens of California aging bridges use the flawed design

  • Bay Area cities lag in making housing quake-safe

    Many public buildings in Bay Area cities have been retrofitted to make them more earthquake-resistant; most of the two types of private homes which are especially vulnerable to damage by tremors — wood-frame, “soft-story” buildings and concrete-frame structures that lack sufficient steel reinforcement — have not yet been retrofitted

  • Researchers look for a better way to build bridges

    Canadian researchers look for ways to make bridges sturdier; one project looks at the use of advanced fiber-reinforced polymers (FRPs) to protect critical concrete infrastructure against extreme shocks; the second study involves the use of ultra high-performance concrete (UHPC) to build long-life, lightweight and cost-effective bridges

  • New Army Corps of Engineers' policy instructs project designers to take rising sea levels into account

    The Army Corps will from now on incorporate estimates of rising sea levels in all its plans for flood control, navigation, and other water projects; the corps has had a planning policy for rising sea levels since 1986, but the instructions were less than a page long, buried in a 1,000-page document and largely ignored; the new policy is articulated in a 44-page stand-alone document

  • New York, Vermont governors: Champlain Bridge beyond saving

    The state of New York saved $10,000 by not performing an ultrasound signals test on the 80-year old Champlain Bridge, which connects New York and Vermont; without the test, the New York Department of Transportation was unaware of how pervasive the rot in the bridge’s piers has become; experts concluded last week that the bridge cannot be saved, and will have to be demolished and replaced; the cost of a new bridge is estimated at $50 million; the economic damage to the communities involved is incalculable

  • Detecting a silent bridge-killer

    New York State failed to make ultrasonic test of concrete piers, which could have avoided Champlain Bridge closure; a $10,000 high-tech ultrasonic test of the piers could have provided an early warning of lurking rot and given time to make repairs to stabilize the piers before the bridge became unsafe

  • Calls Come for 'Programmatic' P3 Approach

    Stakeholders in the market push for programmatic, rather than project-by-project, approach to financing infrastructure through public-private partnerships; “The cycle of infrastructure investment is ongoing since aging toll roads, hospitals, airports, and energy facilities need to be maintained and eventually replaced,” said Jennifer Tennant, assistant vice president for Moody’s

  • Downtown airport boasts a new runway safety system

    Safety barriers made of new type of absorbing concrete are installed at a Kansas City airport; the barriers are made of concrete blocks which collapse to absorb the energy of the airplane while minimizing the damage to the aircraft and allowing the aircraft to be slowed without hurting passengers

  • Army Corps of Engineers in a $1 billion project to protect New Orleans' flank

    The West Bank area of New Orleans is primed for growth, but experts warn that developers and residents should be aware of a problem: the bowl-shaped area is considered by experts as perhaps the city’s most vulnerable flank;’

  • The highway portion of the stimulus package should address traffic bottlenecks first

    Last year Americans wasted $87 billion in the form of 2.8 billion gallons of fuel and 4.2 billion hours because of traffic congestion. This cost will only go up as the economy rebounds and freight traffic increases

  • ASCE holds its 5th ASCE Forensic Engineering Congress

    The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says that the unifying theme of the event will be a reflection on a quarter century of construction pathology — understanding why and how structures fail

  • Earthquake-proof airport terminal in Istanbul airport

    Large swaths of Turkey are earthquake prone; the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake, for example, killed 17,000 people, injured 50,000, and destroyed 27,000 buildings, leaving 500,000 homeless; estimates of property losses range from $3 billion to $6.5 billion; engineers claim they have made the terminal at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport earthquake-proof