Efficient service life extension of bridges through risk-based life-cycle management and high-performance construction materials: Emphasis on corrosion-resistant steel

PI: Dan Frangopol
Co-PI(s): Yinan Yang
University: Lehigh University

A large number of the the nation’s bridges are rated structurally deficient. In Pennsylvania, where steel bridges are prevalent, corrosion-induced deterioration poses substantial threat to the safety, serviceability, and functionality of bridges. Structural failure stemming from steel corrosion, as well as elaborate maintenance actions required in the life-cycle of a carbon steel bridge, can induce considerable economic and social costs to transportation agencies and the public at large. The emergence of high-performance construction materials, in particular corrosion-resistant steel, provides a viable option for transportation agencies to achieve durable and maintenance-free structures. In the whole life-cycle, high-performance construction materials such as corrosion-resistant steel has been shown to be more cost-efficient than carbon steel when used in new bridges. Nevertheless, the relatively high upfront cost of these materials has deterred adoption of high-performance construction materials in existing bridges and bridge components, for which resources are usually more limited than those for new construction.

The main objective of this project is to establish an effective life-cycle bridge management framework for novel intervention actions based on high-performance construction materials. This objective will be primarily achieved by:

  1. risk-based ranking of bridge criticality
  2. life- cycle risk assessment of bridges repaired with high-performance construction materials
  3. risk-informed service life extension considering operational dependency of intervention actions.

The proposed research can provide important information and guidance to Pennsylvania companies. Ultimately, the project will benefit the Commonwealth and the nation in their commitment to solving the Grand Challenge set out by ASCE: “reducing the life-cycle costs of infrastructure by 50 percent by 2025.”