ASCE Responds to the I-35W Bridge Collapse

In response to the catastrophic I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, ASCE is playing a significant and proactive role in the review and analysis of one of our nation's tragic infrastructure disasters. Shortly after the collapse occurred, ASCE immediately began to provide technical and authoritative information to the media and has developed a dedicated area on the ASCE website to providing further resources and related information. The website will continue to evolve over the coming days and should serve as an excellent resource to keep members up to date and help in answering any general questions that may be received. ASCE members can take pride in knowing that ASCE and the civil engineering profession continue to play such a key role in understanding and responding to natural and man-made disasters and in improving the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Friday, August 3, 2007

FHWA Definitions

As a result of the I-35W bridge collapse, there has been much discussion regarding the definitions of 'structurally deficient' and 'functionally obsolete'. The designation of a bridge as structurally deficient or fucntionally obsolete has impact on decisions for bridge maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement. The actual criteria for this determination is set by the FHWA and is not widely understood. Most bridges are inspected every 2 years and receive ratings based on the condition of various bridge components. Two terms used to summarize bridge deficiencies are "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete." Structural deficiencies are characterized by deteriorated conditions of significant bridge elements and reduced load-carrying capacity. Functional obsolescence is a function of the geometrics of the bridge not meeting current design standards. Additionally, Richard Kerr of the Florida Department of Transportation has developed a presentation to provide information on the ratings:

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