RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Transportation and North Carolina State University are teaming up to improve the longevity of bridges across the state.
“The NCDOT Research Office partners with our universities and business units on cutting edge and practical research to extend the life and improve the safety of North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure.” said NCDOT Research and Development Manager Neil Mastin.
NCDOT has provided research students beams from two bridges, including the old bridge in Oak Island. Their research includes designing and testing a retrofit system for deteriorating, prestressed concrete beams.
In some cases, when a bridge needs repairs, NCDOT will restrict the weight limit for vehicle allowed on the bridge, which can impact industry and emergency services. A replacement bridge can also take months, even years to schedule and complete.
“This project with N.C. State includes an innovative use of carbon-fiber technology,” Mastin said. “It will help save tight transportation funds.”
Another goal with this research is to develop a retrofit solution that is practical, which will allow a crew to install the retrofit within a day and improve the strength of the bridge.
Although it this is not a permanent solution, it could potentially add years to the life span of the bridge, enabling it to remain open, with an increased weight limit, until a permanent replacement can be budgeted, scheduled and completed.
Army Lt. Col. Brad McCoy is part of the research team and a PhD candidate.
“I feel very fortunate to be part of such an impactful research project that will extend the useful life of our aging infrastructure – especially the bridges we can install this on,” he said.
The tests in the lab have been successful at restoring significant losses in deteriorated bridge beams, according to McCoy. He, along with NCDOT, hope to have cases studies on a few bridges in the coming months.