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Bridges & Structures

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Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security

Section 1 Background, Panel Membership, and Charge

Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, bridge and highway infrastructure engineers face new and largely unexpected challenges relating to the physical security of critical structures against terrorists attacks. Although the September 11th attacks targeted buildings, threats against bridges and tunnels and other highway infrastructure in various parts of the United States have heightened awareness and concern. Bridge and highway engineers are being asked to assess the vulnerability of structures and to identify means for reducing this vulnerability.

In response to this need, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Transportation Security Task Force sponsored the preparation of a guide to assist transportation professionals as they identify critical highway assets and take action to reduce their vulnerability.[12] Further, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has long considered how to make key structures more resilient against enemy attack. Additionally, to develop and transfer knowledge rapidly within the bridge community to improve structure protection against attack, a series of workshops was conducted in early 2003 under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 20-59(2).

In order to provide guidance to bridge owners, the Federal Highway Administrator appointed members to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)/AASHTO Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) on bridge and tunnel security. Support for this initiative was provided at the request of the AASHTO Transportation Security Task Force.

The following are the members of the BRP:

  • Mr. James E. Roberts, BRP Chair, Consulting Bridge Engineer, Imbsen and Associates, Inc.
  • Dr. John M. Kulicki, BRP Vice Chair, President/CEO and Chief Engineer, Modjeski and Masters
  • Mr. Dwight Beranek, Deputy Director of Military Programs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Mr. Joseph M. Englot, Assistant Chief Engineer/Design, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Dr. John W. Fisher, Professor Emeritus, Lehigh University
  • Mr. Henry Hungerbeeler, Director, Missouri Department of Transportation, and Chair, AASHTO Transportation Security Task Force
  • Dr. Jeremy Isenberg, President and CEO, Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
  • Dr. Frieder Seible, Dean, Jacobs School of Engineering, University of California at San Diego
  • Mr. Kenneth E. Stinson, Chairman and CEO, Peter Kiewit Sons, Inc.
  • Dr. Man Chung Tang, Chairman of the Board and Technical Director, T.Y. Lin International
  • Mr. Kary Witt, Bridge Manager and Deputy General Manager, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

FHWA's charge to the panel was as follows:

Develop short- and long-term strategies for improving the safety and security of the nation's bridges and tunnels, and provide guidance to highway infrastructure owners/operators.

The panel's objective was to apply its collective experience and knowledge about structural design, structural integrity, and environmental stress and strain to new ways of examining how critical bridges and tunnels can be protected against potential terrorist attacks.

The panel met four times to identify and clarify issues, develop and evaluate potential solutions, and formulate and refine recommendations for improving bridge and tunnel security. The recommendations presented in this report include recommendations on actions that can be taken either by bridge and tunnel owners and operators or by FHWA and other state and federal agencies that will result in improved security and reduced vulnerabilities for critical bridges and tunnels.


[12] A Guide to Highway Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Asset Identification and Protection prepared for AASHTO by Science Applications International Corporation, under NCHRP Project 20-7/151B, May 2002. AASHTO plans to refine and update this guide in 2004 to reflect more recent information and to include an economic impact tool that will assist states in identifying the most cost-effective vulnerability mitigation strategies.

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Updated: 06/25/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000