The world around us is constantly evolving. And the transportation and construction industries are no different. Technology continues to play a larger and larger role in both. And following the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 1, 2007, engineers began to try and figure out ways to incorporate technology into bridge design to potentially avoid similar deadly scenarios.
The Current State of the U.S. Transportation Infrastructure
Leading up to the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, numerous structural problems were cited, but ignored, a problem with not just the Interstate 35W bridge, but also with bridges across the United States. In fact, in 2007 alone, 75,000 bridges were rated as “structurally deficient” by the federal government. Today, the FHWA estimates that 25% of the 600,000+ bridges in the U.S. need to be either repaired or replaced.
In 2011, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conducted a study titled Failure to Act, a study detailing the alarming condition of U.S. transportation infrastructure. The study found the following:
1. Unless something changes, businesses will pay $430 billion in increased transportation costs by 2020.
2. Unless something changes, U.S. imports will decline by $28 billion annually.
3. Unless something changes, individual household income will decline by $7,000 annually.
The Solution is Wireless Technology!
Engineers are working toward wireless sensing technology that will be able to capture bridge vibrations and acoustic emission signals to help detect structural problems in enough time to make repairs and avoid incidents like the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.
“Due to the advances in sensor technology, communication and more important, the miniaturization of all these electronics, it has become very practical,” explained Fuh-Gwo Yuan, a Samuel P. Langley professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “We can develop the systems to monitor bridge health in real time.”
“I believe that 25 years from now, almost every bridge, existing or new, can use a wireless sensor system in a very economical way,” added Yuan.
“When we look out 25 years, some things will happen that we can’t even conceive of because we’ll have the ability to do things that we don’t even know about today,” said Blaine Leonard, past president of ASCE.
If you have any questions about Technology and Construction or if you have a construction project that you need completed right the first time, please contact Reliable Contracting, Anne Arundel County’s largest site-work contractor, by calling 410-987-0313 or visit our website. Reliable Contracting now boasts more than 400 employees, 100 trucks and 250 pieces of earthmoving equipment!