Forensic Analysis of Decommissioned Bridges

A limiting factor in current bridge management programs is a lack of detailed knowledge of bridge deterioration mechanisms and processes. The current state of the art is to predict future condition using statistical forecasting models based upon historical observations. This approach is limited in that the historical observations are subjective visual observations assigned to categorical condition states. Physical and chemical processes are not measured and deterioration processes are not modeled at the basic level. While this is adequate for routine bridge maintenance and management it does little to add to fundamental knowledge of the processes that, in the end, limit the useful service life of a bridge. Normal practice is to demolish and dispose of a bridge that is to be replaced, with no attempt to extract useful knowledge from the decommissioned bridge. This project is based upon the hypothesis that bridges which have been in service for extended periods will have deteriorated and that detailed forensic analysis of such bridges can provide fundamental knowledge of the deterioration mechanisms that limit bridge service. The extent, severity, and sequence of deterioration mechanisms or processes such as fatigue, overloading, weathering, and corrosion will be documented and measured. This will undoubtedly require innovative methods and thinking to be efficient and successful. This is an initial step in a project which will submit a much larger proposal to the National Science Foundation. This project will consider this problem in detail and propose how to perform detailed forensic autopsies on several bridges each year (out of the several thousand bridges that are decommissioned each year) and to add to the fundamental science and knowledge of bridge engineering.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center

      Pennsylvania State University
      201 Transportation Research Building
      University Park, PA  United States  16802-4710
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Virginia, Charlottesville

      Center for Transportation Studies
      P.O. Box 400742, Thornton Hall, D228
      Charlottesville, VA  United States  22903
    • Principal Investigators:

      Chase, Steven

    • Start Date: 20120901
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20130530
    • Source Data: RiP Project 33484

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01556673
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC03, 140553-B
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: Mar 12 2015 1:00AM