Investigation of Multimodal Surface Transportation Infrastructure Asset Interactions Using Acoustic Emission and Other Non-destructive Testing Technology Tools

Incorporating United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) stated priority for improving the safety of the nation's transportation infrastructure; this proposal focuses on the improvement of freight transport by including safety of highways and highway bridges. Multimodal Transportation and Infrastructure Consortium's (MTIC's) main goal is to undertake research projects that have significant impact on the economic growth through development of the region. Promoting the development of an integrated, economically competitive, efficient, safe, secure and sustainable national intermodal and multimodal transportation network by integrating all transportation modes for both freight and passenger mobility is the one of the best ways to achieve such a goal. Keeping highway and rail bridges safe is crucial for the efficient performance of the intermodal and multimodal transportation network. This ensures faster flow of goods and services to be economically competitive. With these stated objectives, it is imperative to conduct research and utilize technologies that enhance highway bridge safety by predicting and thus preventing bridge failures. The proposed strategy is to utilize the non-destructive testing (NDT) technology of acoustic emission (AE) and develop an integrated remote monitoring system of AE sensing, broadband wireless and real time analytical correlation technologies with conditions related to transportation and other hazards. AE technology will be employed for the long term, short term and instant investigations to enhance highway bridge related transportation safety involving intermodal interactions. In this respect, this research aims at: (i) characterizing the most common causes affecting performance of intermodal transportation assets (bridges in particular); and (ii) devising ways to prevent spread of factors responsible for underperformance in a timely manner to minimize maintenance efforts and repair costs. The goal of this research is also to advance U. S. technology and expertise for safe, secure and efficient multimodal transportation systems. Integration of AE and remote sensing technologies is proposed for efficient data acquisition and analysis of the pre-existing and the active deteriorating factors in accessible as well as in not easily accessible structural components under the fatigues of highway traffic and the prevailing environment.