• The world's longest tunnel to open 15 October

    At 57 kilometers, the Gotthard tunnel, connecting Zurich and Milan, will be the world’s longest tunnel; constructing the tunnel, which opens on 15 October, required the excavation of m an estimated 24 million tons of rock at a cost of $9.5 billion

  • New cement absorbs CO2

    Concrete — the essential material used by the world’s $3.8 trillion construction industry — accounts for 5 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions; each ton of cement emits about 800 kg (1,763 lb.) of CO2 during manufacture — and every year, some 3 billion tons of cement turn into nearly 30 billion tons of concrete, a British start-up has devised a new cement — based on magnesium silicates rather than limestone — that absorbs and stores CO2 when it is produced

  • Water-proofing cities by using buildings for flood protection

    Buildings, car parks, and roads can be designed in such a way that they can protect the urban area behind them from flooding, alongside their regular urban functions; these innovative construction techniques can also be adapted to the circumstances in the long term, enabling flood protection systems to take account of external influences such as climate change and economic development

  • New Florida museum is glass-covered hurricane-proof fortress

    The new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is designed to withstand category 5 hurricanes; the roof is 12-inch thick solid concrete; the walls are even thicker, at eighteen inches; the glass, which makes up big sections of the outside of the museum, can hold up to a category 3 hurricane; if that glass breaks, letting rain, wind, and debris into the facility, the art will still be safe: storm doors will shield the galleries on the third floor, and the vault, which is on the second floor (all of the art is placed on the second and third floors, above the 30-foot storm surge of a category 5 storm)

  • China's Three Gorges Dam's showing cracks

    The Three Gorges Dam is China’s largest construction project since the Great Wall; the dam was hailed as an engineering feat that could withstand the worst flood in 100 years, but this year’s torrential rains have severely tested its capacity to control the surging Yangtze

  • China, Pakistan floods; Haiti earthquake: not merely "natural" disasters

    The recent disasters in Pakistan, China, and Haiti have done more than kill thousands and displace millions: they have raised questions about whether the modifier “natural” — as in “natural disaster” — is accurate in describing the sources and scope of the catastrophes; these and other recent disasters, in other words, raise questions about how much of the damage caused comes from the forces of nature and how much is the result of human activity; experts say that a major contributing factor to the scope of these disasters are development decisions which are too often controlled by wealthy and corrupt elites who have no interest in protecting people who have been marginalized by poverty

  • Pennsylvania's bridge structural deficiency rate is nearly double the national average

    There are 4,284 bridges in the 5-county Pittsburgh area, and 1,246 of them, or 29 percent, are rated structurally deficient; this means that at least one bridge element — its superstructure, substructure, or deck — was found by inspectors to be in poor or worse-than-poor condition; Pennsylvania’s 22 percent bridge structural deficiency rate is nearly double the national average

  • India tunnels under Himalayan peaks to keep up with China

    In the past decade, as China has furiously built up its military and civilian infrastructure on its side of the Himalayan border, but the Rohtang Pass on the Indian side has stood as silent testimony to India’s inability and unwillingness to master its far-flung and rugged outermost reaches; in June, India has began to change that by starting the ambitious project which will take five years and require boring five miles through the Pir Panjal range; several other tunnels, which would allow all-weather access to Ladakh, which abuts the Tibetan Plateau, are also in the works

  • Good business: Developers make buildings more disaster-secure than building code requires

    A Florida developer hopes to get more business by making his building hurricane-proof; with debris-resistant windows on all thirty-five of its stories, the developer says the building would withstand a Category 5 hurricane without significant damage; the extra hurricane proofing built into the Miami building shows that sometimes the private market can overtake the public sector when it comes to building design and safety standards; for example, in New York and Washington, D.C., some developers have put in anti-terrorism safeguards that exceed building codes

  • 150,000 U.S. bridges are rated "deficient"

    About 25 percent of the U.S. bridges remain “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete”; the deterioration of bridges in the United States is the direct result of a confluence of three developments: the system is aging; the costs of maintaining bridges is high; and traffic on these bridges is steadily increasing

  • Brazil considers bulletproofing schools to protect students in "at-risk areas"

    Teachers call for more protection in drug-gang areas after stray bullet hits an 11-year old student in the heart during math lesson; city authorities are currently studying plans to introduce reinforced walls and bulletproof windows in order to protect an estimated 100,000 students and 5,000 teachers who study and work in “at-risk areas”

  • Preventing on-land spills by reducing pipeline accidents

    Three thousand companies operate more than 2.5 million miles of pipeline carrying flammable and dangerous fuels, such as natural gas and diesel, across the United States to U.S. homes and businesses; with tens of thousands of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico every day, lawmakers want to ensuring that what happened off the Gulf Coast does not occur somewhere inside the United States

  • Oregon town plans first tsunami-resistant building on stilts

    Geological findings in recent years suggest there is a one-in-three chance that in the next half century a mega-earthquake will tear the seafloor apart off the Oregon Coast; huge waves would surge onto coastal communities in as little as fifteen minutes; an Oregon city plans tsunami-resistant buildings on stilts

  • Berkeley quake demonstration shows bridge safety ideas

    Researchers demonstrate new bridge design that can withstand powerful earthquakes; the design concept relies on building segmented bridges with seismic isolators between the segments; the design would be particularly useful for long stretches of elevated freeways and high-speed rail lines that often run on elevated tracks

  • Fiber polymer replaces steel bars in major building projects

    UAE University researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative to demolishing damaged buildings and rebuilding them: using FRP (fiber reinforced polymer); FRP can be used in strengthening and repair instead of concrete or steel jacketing, which are labor intensive; moreover, concrete and steel jacketing systems are also often vulnerable to the same deterioration mechanism that caused the problem in the first place