Ongoing ESITAC Research
Investigation of Corrosion and Other Detereoration Effects in Highway Bridge Components Using Non-Destructive Testing Technology of Acoustic Emission
PI: Vadivel Jagasivaman
The degradation of civil infrastructure is an ongoing problem in terms of not only structural engineering but in maintenance planning as well. The major dilemma for bridge owners is detecting the degradation of the structure, and effective planning with regards to maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement. This difficulty increases when the structure becomes difficult to inspect due to access restrictions or discontinuities that cannot be seen visually. Despite these challenges, it has been shown that nondestructive tests and monitoring can help assess the condition of the bridge so that informed decisions regarding maintenance can be made. The rising demand for ensuring the integrity and performance of our nation's bridges that are usually subjected to severe environmental effects require inspection for evaluation of their structural conditions. A combination of load and corrosion loss is the main cause of deterioration in both concrete and steel bridges. For concrete bridges in long-term service, the degradation caused by corrosion of reinforcement due to chloride ingress and concrete cracking is the major problem. The rate of deterioration is unpredictable in both materials. Thus, the danger to motorists and the economic consequences that the failure of a bridge would create is self evident.
Improvement in safety of the nation's transportation network is U. S. DOT's stated priority. Highways are vital components of the transportation infrastructure. Thus safety of highway bridges is crucial for improving the safety of the nation's transportation network. In a technologically advanced nation like ours, it is imperative to conduct research and utilize technologies that enhance highway bridge safety for achievement of such goals. Research on and utilization of non-destructive test and monitoring technologies is one of the focus areas in ESITAC's strategic planning. It is thus proposed to utilize non-destructive testing technology (NDT), in collaboration with VDOT's District Structure and Bridge Engineering Department and its research arm the Virginia Center of Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR), for accurate, reliable and durable methods to investigate degradation mechanisms of highway bridges and to help take remedial measures to prevent spread of degradation.
There are concrete beam and steel girder bridges in the state of Virginia. There is an inherent need and interest by researchers to have a better understanding regarding the failure process for this type of bridge, and subsequently, the desire to improve and enhance the ability to inspect these types of bridge structures. Thus the purpose of this proposal is to illustrate how the use of acoustic emission (AE) monitoring can provide real-time information regarding the structural integrity of the girders and pillars on the bridge while in use.
Our previous AE studies on bridges such as the one on Coastguard Blvd. in Portsmouth, VA and the ongoing investigations on the bridge at Denbigh Blvd. have provided a comfortable basis on the utility of AE technology for real time investigations without the affecting the traffic flow. In the proposed studies, we plan to focus specifically on corrosion aspects of the degradation even as we continue to establish the role of freight traffic movement under a bridge on bridge structural components. Accordingly, for the period of 2012 - 2013, a potential test bridge like Virginia Structure No. 2222, Federal Structure ID 20727 in Newport News, Virginia (Figure 1), will be studied in consultations and discussions with Virginia Council for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR) and VDOT's District Structure and Bridge Engineering Department.
Impact of Education and Awareness Programs on the Usage and Attitude Towards Texting While Driving Among Young Drivers
PI: Sharad K. Maheshwari and Kelwyn A. D'Souza
Texting-while-driving has become a new menace on the roads. The problem has become a major cause of highways accidents and injuries especially among young drivers. It well documented in research literature that this problem is more prevalent among younger drivers largely because they are the heaviest users of the information technology including texting. Furthermore, the usage of texting is growing rapidly among millennium generation drivers. As this population grows old, texting might become even more prevalent on the roads. This has potential of further increasing accident hazards due to texting-while-driving in the future.
In a very short span of time, texting-while-driving problem became such a large issue that 32 US states and territories have made some laws against it. However, law is only one part of the equation. Driver education is the equally important to solve the issues. It is very important to educate driving public about danger of texting-while-driving. One can draw parallel with seat-belt laws. Each state has seatbelt law on their books for a longtime. At the same time, both state and federal governments made strong efforts in the area of public education about advantages of using seatbelts. Despite aggressive enforcement and creative awareness programs, it took decades to improve seatbelt usage among drivers. Therefore, it is imperative to start strongly education programs about danger of texting-while-driving now.
The available literature suggests younger driver have different perceptions of risk that impacts their behavior related to cell phone use while driving. As mentioned, there are laws being written to combat the problem. It has also been reported that the decrease in cell phone use after enactment of law does not hold over the time and that use of cellular phones actually increases following the initial decrease. Moreover, the enforcement of the laws related to texting-while-driving is very difficult and challenging. This challenge is evident from reported increases in the use of cell phone and related electronic device activities while driving. Furthermore, law based solutions alone can't change driving behavior. These solutions have to be complimented with education and awareness programs. Several studies have been completed about reasons on why young drivers are attracted to texting-while-driving. However, there is a lack of studies in the area of impact of education and awareness programs about danger of texting-while-driving. This research focused on the effectiveness of a few education and awareness programs on a small targeted population of college students. A three step methodology was utilized in this research. In the first step, student behavior attributes related to texting-while-driving was be determined. The next step involved selection and design of specific awareness programs based on the data from the first step. The last step involved conducting a random pretest-posttest experiment on a sample from the target population. The results of these experiments were measured to assess the effectiveness of the selected educational programs about danger of texting-while-driving