Recommendations for Blast Design and Retrofit of Typical Highway Bridges

Bridge design for security has received national attention following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Intelligence gathered since then has revealed threats to bridges in California and New York. In addition, suspected terrorists have been arrested with materials such as video footage of critical structural elements and information on cutting devices needed to destroy bridge cables in their possession. As a result, various state departments of transportation (DOTs) and the federal government are looking into ways that highway infrastructure can be designed to withstand extreme loads better. A pool-funded research project supported by seven state DOTs was conducted by the University of Texas and consultants with expertise in structural response to blast loads. The purpose of this research was to develop economical and effective measures to improve bridge security. Because engineers traditionally have not needed to consider security in the design of bridges and few data exist for the response of bridges to explosive tactics used by terrorists, the primary goal of the research was to provide performance-based design guidelines that can be used by designers with little background in the design of structures for security. To accomplish this goal, parametric studies were conducted on five categories of bridges, including prestressed girder, plate girder, segmental box girder, truss, and cable-stayed configurations. This paper provides a summary of design alternatives that engineers can consider before structural hardening, and if these cost-effective techniques are insufficient in reducing the threat to an acceptable level, structural design and retrofit guidelines are proposed.


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  • Accession Number: 01002454
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 0309093813
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jul 20 2005 1:17PM