Current Research Thrust Areas/Recent Projects

Integrated Structural Health Monitoring

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Research Thrust on Infrastructure Integrity Monitoring and Condition Assessment

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Slab Bridge Test

Maryland intends to revise its current practice of using tie-rods for the transverse post-tensioning in slab bridge design. The new design of using high strength rods will provide a more tightly integrated modular slab bridge system with higher post-tensioning forces and also provide integral abutments to reduce deck joints.
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Wired Signal Pole

Nationwide, there are increasing concerns about signal poles, due to several reported casualties. New provisions for the traffic structures and their foundation designs are specified in the Year-2001 published AASHTO “Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires and Traffic Signals.”
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Pier Replacement

On a bridge structure, the most vulnerable components to the routine application of deicing salts, repeated freeze-thaw cycles, and other damaging effects are bridge decks and elements of substructure under bridge joints.
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Risk Analysis for Explosive Attacks on Highway Bridges

Terrorism presents a real threat to all aspects of society. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have shown how devastating a successfully implemented attack can be to the United States. Homeland security has become a priority, one that government officials and civilians alike cannot take lightly.
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Cost Allocation Study for the Maryland Transportation Authority

In 1997 the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released the results from its latest Federal Highway Cost Allocation study. This cost allocation study employed the cost-occasioned approach based on the underlying philosophy that each user should pay the highway costs that it creates or “occasions.” The cost recovery objective is similar to a user fee principle in which each vehicle class pays for maintenance and preservation of highway infrastructure in proportion to the share of the costs for which the vehicle class is responsible. The 1997 Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study (FHWA, 1997) found that pavement and bridge rehabilitation and reconstruction costs are most closely correlated with the characteristics of different vehicle classes.
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Surveillance of the Performance of Elastomeric Bearings on Maryland Concrete Bridges

Elastomeric bridge bearings are much easier to install in a bridge in comparison to other types of bearings and require minimum maintenance. This type of bearing has been used for decades by the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) on prestressed or reinforced concrete bridges. Based on manufacturers’ reports, elastomeric bearings should not undergo marked stiffening at low temperatures when the thermal contraction of the bridge deck is at maximum. Such stiffening could be deleterious to the bearing and/or structure. Correctly-designed and installed elastomeric bridge bearings can be confidently expected to function efficiently for at least two decades. However, reports from other states have stated problems of some cases using elastomeric bearings.
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Truss Bridge Top Chord Buckling Analysis and Redundancy Analysis

The buckling problem of the compressive top chord of a pony truss, or, as is called, half through truss, is a problem of members with elastic lateral restraints. Article 10.16.12.2 of the AASHTO Standard Specifications, 17th Edition, states:

10.16.12.2 The top chord shall be considered as a column with elastic lateral supports at the panel points. The critical buckling force of the column, so determined, shall exceed the maximum force from dead load, live load, and impact in any panel of the top chord by not less than 50%.*
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Development of The Engineering GIS/Database Document Organization System (GDOS)

Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) engineering has acquired a large amount of data over many years relating to the construction, rehabilitation, upgrade, and continuing maintenance of roadways, tunnels, bridges, and ancillary buildings. Much of the data collected in the past is in hardcopy format only and organized by project in the file rooms. Finding data by project is often difficult and error prone and Engineering would like the ability to have the data organized in several ways simultaneously, including by project, locations, keyword, type of work, etc…
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Health Monitoring of the New High Performance Steel Bridge on MD 140 over MD 27

FHWA Innovative Bridge Research & Construction (IBRC) Program approved funding to the State of Maryland for the fiscal year 2003 to partially cover the construction of an A709, Grade HPS 70W (high performance steel) bridge. HPS70W is considered an innovated material and this new steel, developed under a cooperative research effort between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Navy and the North American steel industry, possesses superior weldability and toughness compared to conventional steels of the same strength range. However, its long-term performance needs to be evaluated. FHWA/MDSHA has awarded a grant to the University of Maryland for the bridge monitoring and performance evaluation.
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Testing and Selection of Concrete Mix Design for Fast-track Full Depth Repair of Concrete Pavements

Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) currently requires use of a 12-hour concrete mix for patching in heavily trafficked roadways in urban areas. This mix is required to achieve 2,500 psi compressive strength in 12 hours. However, it is desired by the SHA to reduce the concrete set time to allow the patch to be opened to traffic after about 4 hours after placing the concrete in the patch. The objective of the project is to test proper concrete material mix design both in the lab and in the field for composite pavements that will allow the repaired sections to be opened to traffic after four hours of concrete placement in the patch area. A shorter patch repair time would minimize the disruption caused to traffic and ultimately provide longer lasting composite pavements.
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DC Highway Sign and Sign Structure Management Systems

Washington, D.C. Government, 2000-2003
Since the authorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991, transportation professionals realize the importance of management. Asset management is a systematic process of maintaining, upgrading, and operating physical assets, such as roadways and bridges, in a cost-effective way. Recently, attention has been drawn to asset management which needs the combined knowledge of engineering, business management, economics and use of the latest computer-aided technology. It provides tools for decision-making and can create a framework for short- and long-term planning.
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Knowledge-based Bridge Management Decision Support

Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship on the project titled “Knowledge-based Bridge Management Decision Support” National Highway Institute of Federal Highway Administration, 2000-2001
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Application of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) on bridge deck

FHWA-IBRC (Federal Highway Administration, Innovative Bridge Research & Construction) program assigned to the Maryland State Highway Administration, 2000-2002 Use of FRP-composite bridge decks is viewed as a potential long-term solution for the concrete deck deterioration problem. Other incentives for using FRP-composite materials include the material’s inherent high strength-to-weight ratio. Use of composite structural deck surfaces can decrease the “dead load” associated with the bridge and therefore increase vehicle-load-carrying capabilities of the bridge.
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Software Development and Research for the Sign Bridge Program (SABRE)

Maryland State Highway Administration, 2000-2001

Design and erection of highway sign supports has been made easier by development of a dedicated computer program, WIN-SABRE, a Sign Bridge Analysis and Evaluation System. The program contains many special features. With these special features, it is now possible to design and analyze a fairly complicated sign bridge structure in minutes rather than hours, resulting in a significant increase in productivity. The program also serves as an evaluation tool in sign structure Management Systems.
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SABRE’s Web Page

Decision Making Software Development to Damaged Pole

Maryland State Highway Administration, 2000-2001

OMT (Office of Materials and Technology) metals technicians and OOTS (Office of Traffic and Safety) signal technicians of the Maryland State Highway Administration are frequently requested to investigate the damage to signal/light poles and sign structures resulting from traffic accidents. Often the circular steel tube uprights of the poles/structures have been dented. This permanent deformation varies in size and generally does not visually affect the upright. When there is no tearing of the metal at the deformation it is difficult to determine if the structural integrity of the upright. When there is no tearing of the metal at the deformation it is difficult to determine if the structural integrity of the upright has been compromised. That evaluation is compounded by the type of loading on the structure and its relationship to the deformation.
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Maryland Study, Vehicle Collisions with Highway Bridges

Maryland State Highway Administration, 2000-2001

Numerous studies have examined the effects of large vehicles on bridge structures; however, most have focused on vehicle weights and not on heights. Bridges over highways are designed to provide a specified minimum vertical clearance. Many commercial vehicles exceed these clearances. Regulations are in place to route these overheight trucks around low bridges, but they are not always followed. Overheight vehicles often collide with bridge superstructures, causing structural damage, injuries, and sometimes even fatalities. For example, in 1999 an excavator on a flatbed trailer struck and collapsed a pedestrian bridge over the Baltimore Beltway, killing one motorist and injuring three others. This study was initiated to assess the magnitude of overheight vehicle collisions and to identify potential countermeasures, if warranted.
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Assessment of the Load Potential for the Passage of Heavy Truck Configuration on the National Bridge

The assessment for ATA was a multi-year study to quantify the effects of various heavy truck configurations upon the bridges which currently exist on the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). The components of the study included setting up the National Bridge Inventory Sample (NBIS), conducting structural analyses of the NBIS, and establishing Evaluation Norms and Criteria. The results were used to determine the influence that the truck sample provided by ATA has upon the entire NBI.

The Influence of Heavy Trucks on the Overload and Allocation of User Costs on Bridge Structures

For the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

Purpose – To study the condition of the U.S. infrastructure with respect to the economics of our transportation planning and taxation system, the legislation regarding the limits to the size and weight of trucks, and the capacity of bridge structures.

Effect of Maryland Legal Vehicle Weight Limits on Highways and Bridges

For the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Federal Highway Administration

Purpose – To determine the effects of truck weight limits on the highway pavement and bridge structures in Maryland. The investigation was composed of four parts, including the damage on highway pavement, the damage on bridge structures, the allocation of cost of trucks for highway pavement, and the allocation of cost of various trucks for bridge structures.

Utilization of Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) for the Determination of the Effect of Truck Traffic on Bridge

The purpose of this project was to utilize the weigh-in-motion (WIM) method to determine more accurately the effects of truck traffic on Maryland bridge structures. Specifically, various representative bridges within Maryland were monitored with strain gages connected to automated strain recorders of the WIM equipment. The varied and detailed information obtained was implemented into improved analytical computer models. Identified were six parameters of major importance when calculating the response of bridges under both dead and live loadings.

Development and Implementation of a Site Specific Algorithm for the Optimum Design of Steel Superstr

This project targets the enhancement of the capability of Bethlehem Steel Corp. (BSC) to market its steel plate and standard rolled sections. The steel plate area, with which the fabrication of bridges has become most important, is the specific market in which Bethlehem Steel is concerned.