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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-06-072
Date: March 2006

Multiyear Plan for Bridge and Tunnel Security Research, Development, and Deployment

Appendix B Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel for Bridge and Tunnel Security

A Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) of bridge and tunnel experts was convened to examine bridge and tunnel security. FHWA's charge to the panel was to "develop short- and long-term strategies for improving the safety and security of the Nation's bridges and tunnels, and to provide guidance to highway infrastructure owner/operators." Its recommendations are recorded in report no. FHWA-IF-03-036, Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security, September 2003.(2) The intent of the report is to "recommend policies and actions to reduce the probability of catastrophic structural damage that could result in substantial human casualties, economic losses, and social-political damage." Toward this end, the BRP makes seven overarching recommendations in three areas: institutional, fiscal, and technical. The report, however, focuses more on the technical recommendations because of the charge that it was given and because of the collective strengths and expertise of the panelists. Summarized below, from the report, are the Overarching Recommendations, followed by more detailed recommendations for R&D that address the near- and long-term design and engineering solutions.

OVERARCHING RECOMMENDATIONS

Institutional Recommendations

1. Interagency Coordination

2. Outreach and Communication Strategies

3. Clarification of Legal Responsibility

Technical Recommendations

4. Technical Expertise - Security solutions should be "engineered" and FHWA, as the Nation's primary federal agency with the necessary engineering expertise, serve as the coordinating agency for prioritizing critical bridges and tunnels and administering program to allocate funds to responsible agencies to meet high priority security needs.

5. Research, Development, and Implementation - Engineering standards do not exist regarding security concerns for bridges and tunnels. Technology should be developed and validated through appropriate R&D initiatives identified herein to address this need.

Fiscal Recommendations

6. New Funding Sources for Bridge/Tunnel Security.

7. Funding Eligibility.

Research and Development Recommendations

The BRP recommends R&D initiatives with a goal of creating "empirically validated computational tools, design methods and hardening technologies to assist in designing for the terrorist attack." The recommendations with short- and long-term elements are directed to FHWA, AASHTO and other government-sponsored research activities, including universities and federal laboratories.

1. Assess performance of critical elements under credible loads (including load reversals)

Short-term (within the next year):

  • Synthesize current state of knowledge for component properties and modeling

Long-term (more than one year):

  • Establish the load structure and load interaction
  • Start component experiments; recommend large-scale testing using real materials, components, and connections under comparable strain rates
  • Conduct comparative parameter studies of typical components and materials

2. Validate and calibrate computational methods and modeling with experiments to better understand structural behavior from blast loads

Short-term (within the next year):

  • Pull together and examine studies and research that have already been conducted on bridge and tunnel elements and components
  • Investigate transferability of seismic design

Long-term (more than one year):

  • Develop a predictive round robin analysis of actual blast experiments on bridge and tunnel components
  • Test critical components, such as suspender ropes, stay cables, concrete and steel decks, side loads on towers, and box sections, for testing and blast performance

3. Validate and calibrate computational methods and modeling with experiments to better understand structural behavior from thermal loads

Short-term (within the next year):

  • Pull together and examine studies and research that have already been conducted on bridge and tunnel elements and components

Long-term (more than one year):

  • Evaluate various mitigation fire effects in tunnels, double deck bridges, and overpass bridges

4. Determine the residual functionality of bridge and tunnel systems and their tolerance for extreme damage

Short-term (within the next year):

  • Examine bridges and tunnels compromised in wars and after demolition attempts

Long-term (more than one year):

  • Determine progressive collapse potential of various bridge and tunnel systems

5. Develop mitigation measures and hardening technologies

Short-term (within the next year):

  • Assess existing hardening technologies and the applicability to bridges and tunnels

Long-term (more than one year):

  • Develop new materials and new design methodologies

In addition to these R&D recommendations, the BRP suggests AASHTO work with university engineering institutions to develop R&D programs for students and bridge professionals to address security concerns. The panel recommends that DHS work jointly with industry and state and local governments to explore and identify potential technology solutions and standards that will support analysis and afford better and more cost-effective protection against terrorism.

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