Evaluation and Mitigation of Vehicle Impact Hazard for Overpass Bridges in South Dakota

With the increase in heavy truck traffic resulting from the oil industry in the northern plains, the probability of a significant impact load on a bridge pier resulting from a truck collision will increase. Collision loads, intentional or accidental, could potentially cause partial or total collapse of highway bridges. Catastrophic failure of bridges may result in significant loss of life and adverse socio-economic impact. Bridges in the northern plains are especially vulnerable to impact loads since they were and are not designed for any significant lateral load levels such as earthquake or blast loads. Studies are needed to develop risk assessment and management strategies to reduce the risk of collision loads in Region 8 states to a level that is economically feasible. Although not commonly occurring, collision of heavy vehicles on to highway overpass bridge piers had happened in the past and paralyzed traffic on both the overpass and the highway below. The 2003 Nebraska bridge collapse accident on I-80 was caused by a truck collision and halted the traffic in that section for 3 days. This type of hazard can be categorized as an extreme event that has a low probability of happening, but carries very significant consequences, which justifies certain preventive measures if proven to be cost effective. The robustness of the overpass pier and the preventive measures to slow down the vehicle before collision are the keys to mitigate the impact of the accident. The cost for increasing the robustness of pier structure to the level compatible to impact loading may not be justifiable especially for existing structures. Thus it is assumed in this study that the most cost effective mitigation measure for this type of hazard is to effectively reduce the speed of the accident vehicle before the collision or to retrofit deficient bridge column to increase. This study will evaluate the impact resistance for typical bridge columns on South Dakota Interstate system and provide practical recommendations to reduce vehicle speed under the collapse threshold and to retrofit deficient bridge columns. The objectives of this research project are: (1) Evaluate the risk of bridge collapse caused by vehicle collision impact for South Dakota highway system. (2) Based on impact resistance of existing bridge columns, propose practical mitigation measures to reduce the accident vehicle speed approaching the column in order to reduce the risk of bridge collapse due to vehicle impact. (3) Provide recommendations for the design of bridge columns in future bridges.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $170000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    South Dakota State University, Brookings

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Brookings, SD  United States  57007
  • Principal Investigators:

    Wehbe, Nadim

    Pei, Shiling

  • Start Date: 20120101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180208
  • Source Data: MPC-397

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01483268
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC08
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 6 2013 1:02AM