Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Problems. Topic 46-11. Post-Extreme Event Assessment of Infrastructure Damage to Highway Bridges

It is generally recognized that the performance of the transportation infrastructure in extreme events is essential to the Nation's economy. The national infrastructure is a complex network of assets providing different services, designed according to different specifications, exposed to various hazards, and consequently, suffering from different vulnerabilities. For example, New York State Department of Transportation has developed manuals for the following bridge vulnerabilities: hydraulic, collision, overload, seismic, steel details, and concrete details. Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012) underscored the familiar conclusion that the most prevalent causes for bridge failures are hydraulic - related. High temperatures caused by fire and blast impact caused by explosion gained importance after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Whereas the constraints and priorities vary among the localities over time, all infrastructure managers would gain from structural assessments, integrated across the spectrum of extreme events, rather than partitioned according to their cause. As an example, the vulnerability of the bridges on the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) to earthquakes has been reduced significantly as a result of coordinated measures on the national, state and local levels. Over the last several decades the design philosophy consistent with sustainable life-cycle management has evolved in important ways. Prescriptive specifications have been supplemented or superseded by performance-based ones. Under earthquakes with return periods ranging from 500 to 2500 years, bridges are expected to meet different performance targets with various degrees of non-catastrophic damage. The design and construction for a desired structural performance during earthquakes gain important insights from the database of post-earthquake assessments gathered by reconnaissance teams of experts. All post-earthquake emergency management decisions are based on the rapid assessment of structural damage and functionality. Over the past decades the hands-on post-event visual inspections have gained considerable experience and have been systematized in a number of manuals, such as the ones quoted in the source list herein. More recently, the management of bridges under extreme events has been enhanced by the rapidly developing technologies providing structural diagnostics, as well as by the networks for "real time" data transmittal. These new capabilities are not fully explored and reflected in systematic guidelines. Moreover, the same expertise and capabilities can serve not only in earthquakes, but after other extreme events such as (but not limited to) storm surge, wave action, and scour. There is a need to advance the effectiveness of the post-extreme event bridge assessment by a review and evaluation of the available data acquisition and transmittal systems and procedures. Post-earthquake rapid and detailed assessments of bridges and other structures have been developed and refined after every such event over the last several decades. A few examples are listed among the attached sources. The visual field inspections have been most informative. Typically, a first post-earthquake inspection report is produced soon after the event to make determinations on the integrity of the affected structures and their load-carrying capacity.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Williams, Jon

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    Amherst, MA  United States  01003
  • Principal Investigators:

    Alipour, Alice

  • Start Date: 20140923
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37607

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543465
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2014 1:00AM