Posts

Bridge Inspection Market expected to Quadruple by 2029

One in nine bridges in the United States is structurally deficient, with an average age of 42 years old. The increase in structurally deficient bridges is giving way to development in the bridge inspection market. Sooner or later, these structures require inspections to identify significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or potential replacement.

The Rise of Bridge Inspection

Already, there is a rise in bridge collapses across the globe. Moving forward, more bridges will continue to destabilize due to changing climatic conditions, increasing traffic, and extreme weather events.

Demand for routine bridge inspections will rise at least four times its current level, according to research firm Fact.MR. The industry is projecting to reach a market valuation of $6.3 billion by the end of 2029, as federal governments consider funding solutions to support infrastructure.

Estimates from the same research expect routine bridge inspections to create an absolute dollar opportunity of $5 billion in the United States. Meanwhile, developing economies such as China, India, and Brazil are seeing a spike in infrastructure upkeep as well.

Benefits of Bridge Inspection

More than 40 percent of the 600,000 bridges in the United States are over 50 years in age. As more bridges require inspection, bridge inspection continues to evolve. It’s vital for owners to monitor the condition of bridges to apply timely maintenance and preservation before they become dangerous.

Above all, bridge inspections are key for owners to keep bridges in good condition and keep them from the “structurally deficient” label. Additionally, the structure can maintain a detailed history of maintenance and previous natural disaster damage over its life cycle.

In the long run, inspections save money for owners and keep the people in their jurisdiction safe. The federal guidelines require inspections of the National Bridge Inventory bridges every two years. It’s often difficult to complete these inspections within the timeframe due to the availability of infrastructure funds. However, encouraging the use of technological advancements in bridge inspection at every level including initial, routine, and in-depth inspections.

Inspection Technology has a Key Role in Expansion

Traditional bridge inspection methods are time-consuming, dangerous, costly, and inconvenient to travelers. Instead, many bridge owners are turning to technologically advanced methods of evaluating bridges that are non-destructive and automated. The most popular of these methods are drones with specialized sensors, which are preemptive in identifying weaknesses in bridges.

Drone technology is revolutionizing bridge inspections. Information from pre-programmed drone flights is giving bridge owners and engineers data to plan the maintenance and rehabilitation for bridges. Drones can reach tight areas and confined spaces without putting a life at risk. In short time, drones create a high-quality 3D image to transform data about the bridges in a much more efficient way.

As of 2018, over 30 state Departments of Transportation were already using drone technology to do inspections. Here are some of the significant uses for drones from Minnesota’s Department of Transportation study in bridge inspections:

  • Average cost savings on a bridge inspection are 40%, without cutting man-hours
  • Using thermal sensors and drones can detect concrete delaminations
  • Reducing safety risks
  • Gathering pre-inspection information for planning large-scale inspections
  • Using drones is safe and effective in challenging conditions

Technology and methods for determining how to maintain bridge infrastructure continue to develop. Thus, more bridge owners continue to use it to decrease costs and assure the safety of more bridges. As a result, the bridge inspection marketplace will continue to grow with the development of technology as an important aspect for market players.

U.S. Bridge’s long-lasting bridges

U.S. Bridge focuses on strengthening infrastructure and bridge repair to connect communities. Our bridges are sustainable and safe, making transportation possible for people everywhere. Our bridge engineers meet the safety needs and design requirements to ensure durable quality prefabricated bridges. Get a quote online or visit our website for more information from our bridge experts.

USB-Blog-How-it-Works-Engineering-Bridges-To-Handle-Stress

Bridges are often seen as immovable structures, but in truth, they are quite dynamic. Bridges must be engineered to move with environmental stressors in order to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. Additionally, different load types, weather conditions, and traffic can all cause bridges to adjust at various times. In a way, a bridge is an engineering marvel. So, how does it work? Below are some of the key components of bridge engineering and how they handle stress.

Oh, Gravity!

Gravity has the most profound impact on a bridge. Gravity is a constant – no matter what the other conditions, gravity is always acting on a structure, trying to pull it down. Bridges are at an even more unfair advantage against gravity since they span open spaces. For instance, a building, like a skyscraper, is also affected by gravity, but the ground the building is built on pushes back, creating an equilibrium of sorts. Bridges have no ground beneath them to act as a counterbalance to gravity. However, bridge failures are rare, thank goodness! So, how do designers go about engineering bridges to compensate for this gravitational pull?

Compression and tension are carefully balanced by channeling the bridge’s load onto the abutments (the supports on either end of the bridge) and the piers (the supports underneath the bridge).

Other Factors When Engineering Bridges

While gravity may be the most consistent force acting on a bridge, there are a handful of other elements that have a significant impact.

Loads – Bridge loads change often from vehicle to vehicle. Even a bridge specifically designed for one type of job, i.e. a train bridge, will find its load varying often. Different trains and their cargo weigh different amounts. Hence, it is imperative to engineer bridges that can adapt to these loads by flexing and bending and then returning to their normal state once the load passes.

Weather – Weather can wreck havoc on most structures, and bridges are no exception. Earthquakes and hurricanes can greatly impact structural integrity, while tides and wind can cause twisting and swaying. However, water is the most worrisome factor, because its different states generate different results. As snow or rain, water can make a bridge surface slippery; but, as ice, water can get into the crevices of a bridge and expand, causing more issues once the ice melts.

All these elements must be taken into consideration when designing and constructing a bridge. Only true experts understand what it takes to build a robust, durable, and functional bridge.

Find Out More Today

To find out more about how we go about engineering bridges to meet various workloads and demands, please contact U.S. Bridge today. Our team of engineering experts have been building bridges for decades. U.S. Bridge can bring that level of expertise to your next project too.

Optimal Design Of Through-Truss Steel Bridges

Truss bridges are one of the oldest bridge types in America. In fact, even novice bridge enthusiasts can easily spot one, since they are identified by their singular design feature: the truss, which forms triangular units. Truss bridges are used for a variety of reasons, mainly because they can easily accommodate dynamic loads. A through-truss bridge is one in which the roadway dissects the truss, meaning the truss is seen both above and below the deck. Here are a few interesting facts about the optimal design of through-truss steel bridges.

Factors that Impact Truss Steel Bridge Design

When studying through-truss steel bridges, engineers are primarily concerned with three things: optimum weight, optimum height and building material. A combination of these factors greatly impacts not only the cost of the bridge, but also its longevity and usefulness. Additional factors such as weather and use are also taken into consideration.

Determining the Optimal Through-Truss Design

In 2014, students at the civil engineering school at the University of Manchester in the UK studied through-truss bridge design with the goal of understanding the best combination of the above. They were most concerned with bridge stability, longevity, and cost-effectiveness. They determined that the element with the most impact on bridge design was the decking material. While minor adjustments can be made in the width and height, the weight of the decking material has the largest impact on the longevity of the bridge. They also realized that reinforced concrete decking is the most cost-effective; however, when reducing weight is the primarily concern, steel is the best option.

Through-Truss Bridges and U.S. Bridge

U.S. Bridge has been a leader in bridge building since 1936. Our expert staff of engineers, builders, and designers are well-versed in all bridge types, including through-truss steel bridges. Still family-owned and operated, U.S. Bridge is committed to providing customers with the latest in bridge design and construction. Our past clients include state and local governments, as well as businesses.

If you would like to find out more about U.S. Bridge, our work and our team of experts, please contact us today. We are happy to discuss your steel bridge needs and look forward to working with you.

Myths: Modular Prefabricated Short-Span Steel Bridges Are Only Temporary Structures

Modular, prefabricated steel bridges are often considered temporary structures. Using modular design and building bridges onsite has often been considered a more efficient building method, but a less stable one. However, after meeting all the permanence standards set by the AASHTO, the ASTM and the AWS, it was determined that pre-fab short span steel bridges can be considered permanent structures.

Standards for Permanence

Most often, the biggest concern facing modular bridges and permanence, relates to how they are constructed. Bridge parts must be assembled onsite, resulting in welding in possibly less than ideal conditions. For short span steel bridges, this concern is absolved because the welding is all done in a shop, under favorable conditions. This reduces the risk of introduced environmental factors during the welding process, and ensures the pre-fab bridge will withstand the rigors of time and weather.

Myth-Busting Short Span Steel Bridges

The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA) reports the bridge industry is generally moving toward a modular bridge design. Due to the ease of assembly and the efficiency with which they can be built, pre-fab bridges make more sense. Timing is especially important regarding bridge construction since more than a quarter of all bridges across the United States have been deemed as “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.” Also, using steel as the primary material for short span bridges brings a host of benefits including:

  • Consistent Quality
    Steel production is held to high standards and consistently meets quality requirements.
  • Sustainability
    Almost 93% of all steel is made from scrap steel.
  • American-made
    Structural steel is made in America, providing jobs to American workers and boosting the economy.
  • Quick fabrication and Installation
    Steel can be manufactured fairly quickly. This accelerates the construction timeline and decreases disruption to the surrounding areas.

To find out more about short-span steel bridges and how permanent they are, please contact us at U.S. Bridge today. Our expert team of engineers and builders are more than happy to discuss the benefits and strengths of modular bridge construction with you.