• Experts trying to determine cause of a giant Louisiana sinkhole

    The earth near Bayou Corne, Louisiana opened on 2 August: a 300-foot-wide sinkhole, with depth varying between 50 and 300 feet, suddenly opened up in an area, and the authorities have been trying to determine whether the sinkhole was caused by the collapse of an abandoned brine mining cavern along the margin of the Napoleonville Salt Dome or by something else

  • Debate over causes of levee failure during Katrina intensifies

    A court case in which residents of two sections of New Orleans are suing a construction group has put millions of dollars at stake; residents of the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish residents claim that Washington Group International (WGI), an Amy Corps of Engineers contractor, removed several buildings and pilings from land along the Industrial Canal as part of a construction plan to expand the canal’s shipping lock, then failed adequately to plug the holes left behind; the holes allowed rainwater from Hurricane Katrina to seep underneath the 14-foot wall, essentially lifting the wall and allowing the areas to be flooded

  • In China, corruption blamed for collapse of bridges

    Since 2011 eight bridges have collapsed in China, according to the state run media, including the Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin last November; the bridge was almost 10-mile long and construction was originally estimated to take three years, but workers finished it in half the time; when the bridge collapsed, the first thing on people’s mind was corruption

  • New Jersey infrastructure badly needs shoring up, and soon

    According to experts, changes to the way New Jersey maintains its infrastructure must be made soon, or the state could be vulnerable to catastrophic failures in its water and power systems as well as collapsing roads; the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority says more than $56.9 billion will be needed just to maintain state roads, rails, and public transportation systems through 2035; when you add in improvements to account for environmental changes and the expanding population in the state, the bill skyrockets to more than $123 billion

  • China’s growing role in U.S. infrastructure building, maintenance

    The building and maintenance of heavy infrastructure in the United States, which includes road, mass transit, marine, and building construction, is worth $44.1 billion per year and $12 billion in annual wages; bridge and tunnel construction is worth an estimated $24 billion in revenue and $4.3 billion in wages; many wonder why, in this difficult times, states and municipalities hire Chinese companies for many of these infrastructure projects

  • Decline and fall: all built structures are destined to break down or fail

    A series of infrastructure-related accidents in Ontario this summer has caused people to ask: Just how safe are the structures that we build? The answer a materials science and engineering professor offers may not be reassuring: “Nature always looks for ways to use energy in a favorable state — gravity always pushing things downwards is an example. Any built structure naturally goes against nature. Therefore, all structures will eventually be broken or destroyed — given the right amount of time, they will break down or fail.”

  • Aerospace materials for on-site building of pipes of infinite length

    Concrete and steel pipes are built in short sections to fit on standard 18-wheel trucks; the heavy industrial manufacturing processes, long-distance trucking, and leak-prone joints used in steel and concrete pipe construction exact a heavy toll on the environment, not to mention bottom line; the solution: a new pipe design, consisting of a central layer of lightweight plastic honeycomb, which can be built onsite as a single section of virtually infinite length

  • New, affordable instant warnings of bridge collapse

    The Federal Bureau of Transportation lists nearly 70,000 U.S. bridges as “structurally deficient,” requiring extra surveillance; in addition, more than 77,000 others are categorized as “obsolete” — exceeding their intended lifespan and carrying loads greater than they were designed to handle; researchers developed a new technology for monitoring these 150,000 aging U.S. highway bridges

  • New method for detecting, measuring bridge damage

    Researchers have created a bridge health index, which is a rating system that more accurately describes the amount of damage in a bridge; the health index can extend beyond bridges and apply to other structures, such as gas pipelines, dams, buildings, and airplanes

  • Automated pavement crack detection and sealing system to extend roadways life

    Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute developed a prototype automated pavement crack detection and sealing system; in road tests, the system was able to detect cracks smaller than one-eighth-inch wide and efficiently fill cracks from a vehicle moving at a speed of three miles per hour

  • Quick-curing concrete for infrastructure, mining disaster recovery

    A quick-curing concrete can be sprayed to reinforce structures — buildings, runways, tunnels, bridges, dams – damaged by an act of terror or natural disaster; the spraying can be done almost immediately, before the structure fails catastrophically, providing safety for rescue workers who risk their lives minutes after disasters hit, and for still stranded in or near the damaged structure

  • Hurricane Ike damage analysis point to vulnerable Texas bridges

    Preliminary results from a new research show more than a dozen Gulf Coast bridges on or near Galveston Island would likely suffer severe damage if subjected to a hurricane with a similar landfall as Hurricane Ike but with 30 percent stronger winds

  • Ancient design concept leads to new ideas for building durable bridges

    Engineers combine an ancient concrete arch form, dating back to the Roman empire, with a composite shell to create bridge beams which are designed to last 100 years

  • Using nanomaterials to build safer, longer-lasting roadways

    Asphalt is now made from petroleum, so it is very expensive; researchers tested two types of nanoclays, adding 2-4 percent by weight to asphalt; this is a smidgeon — less than half of a percent of the total weight of the asphalt pavement itself, but it made a big difference, and could make for safer, longer-lasting roadways

  • New tool offer better flooding protection

    There are more than 84,000 dams across the United States, and millions of Americans live behind them; if these dams and levees were to fail and unleash catastrophic flooding, as some did in New Orleans in 2005, a high price will be paid in life lost and property destroyed; DHS S&T and partners develop new software systems for fast simulation of catastrophic flooding