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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 23, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2009

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Volume 23, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2009

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MCEER and Calspan Tackle Intelligent Renewal and Improved Resilience of Infrastructure
Partnership to Focus on Full-Scale Testing and Application of Innovative Bridge Technologies


Bridge research at MCEER is rising to a new level through a partnership with Calspan Corporation, an advanced industrial technology center headquartered in Buffalo, NY (see Calspan profile). The new partnership will focus the combined talents of both organizations to effectively meet the nation’s growing need for the intelligent renewal and improved resilience of its infrastructure from natural-occurring phenomena and extreme events. The first phase of this collaboration will focus on the development, full-scale testing and application of innovative bridge technologies.

The first project will capitalize on Western New York’s four seasons to experimentally evaluate the impact of a variety of naturally occurring environmental conditions on seismic isolation systems installed on a bridge. To carry out this experiment, two full-scale single-lane bridges will be built on Calspan’s 685-acre Ashford, NY property. Each bridge will be composed of 5 reinforced-concrete box girders that have been donated to MCEER by Hubbell Galvanizing, of Utica, NY. The bridges will include elastomeric seismic isolation bearings, donated by Dynamic Isolation Systems (DIS), of McCarran, NV. The girders were recently moved to the Ashford site, where construction of the 72-foot long bridges will begin this fall.

Experimental testing, scheduled to begin on July 1, 2010, will monitor the variation of physical properties of the bearings under changing environmental conditions over a five-year period. Buffalo’s climate is well-known for its variety in temperature, snow, wind, rain, barometric pressure, etc., which will allow researchers to collect data on how these factors impact the performance and life span of the bearings.

Calspan is designing a dedicated loading system specifically for the experiment. The system will excite the bridge transversely and cause simulated seismic motions of the isolation bearings.

The $750,000 project is supported by funding from New York State and industry donations. Former MCEER Director and leader of MCEER’s Highway Project, George C. Lee, serves as principal investigator of the project.

The MCEER-Calspan partnership leverages the infrastructure-research skills of MCEER, with the testing expertise of Calspan Corporation, internationally recognized for its rich heritage of innovation and proven excellence in technology and science.