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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Bridge Design Specifications Become New Industry Standards

June 5, 2008

Findings of a study conducted by researchers in the Civil Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington have led to the adoption of new design specifications for certain types of concrete bridges. The study was begun in early 2005.

A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Ali Abolmaali investigated the shear capacities of pre-cast, reinforced concrete box culverts. Experiments were conducted using both finite element analysis and full-scale experimental testing. Twenty-eight full-scale culverts with different geometric dimensions and weighing as much as 47,000 pounds were loaded to the point of failure.

Three-dimensional finite element models with coupled non-linear analysis algorithms developed at UT Arlington were validated and used for further parametric study. These were capable of accurately predicting the load-deformation and crack initiation and propagation up to failure.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has notified Dr. Abolmaali that the results of his study have been incorporated into the Load and Resistance Factor Design Specifications for both Concrete Design and Culvert Structures, replacing the current national bridge design codes.

This research was conducted with funds from the Federal Highway Administration, the American Concrete Pipe Association, and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Abolmaali was assisted by Professor John H. Matthys and Anil Garg, a Ph.D. student, both in Civil Engineering, and Dr. Raul Fernandez of the Automation & Robotics Research Institute and civil engineering graduate students. As an additional benefit, Dr. Abolmaali was able to have four refereed journal articles published as a result of this research.