There are hundres tunnels and bridges in the United States. These tunnels and bridges move hundreds of thousands of passengers and tons of cargo daily. Many of these tunnels and bridges are located at key “choke points” in the Nation’s transportation network. As with other components of the transportation infrastructure, tunnels and bridges are susceptible to a range of threats and hazards. Some hazards are natural, such as earthquakes and landslides; others are accidental, such as fires; and others are intentional, such as detonated explosions.
Most existing tunnel and bridge structures have been designed and built without consideration of the impacts of extreme hazards such as earthquakes, fires and explosions. In the past, explosion impacts on tunnel structures have received considerably less attention than potential explosion impacts on surface building structures, probably because the tunnel structure is so robust that it was not perceived to be susceptible to significant damage from the explosion. In 2003, however, the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) of bridge and tunnel experts, assembled in the U.S.A., concluded that the actions of terrorists can critically damage some transportation systems and, with the use of explosives, exert loads that exceed current design standards. After the panel considered how natural disasters have affected our transportation system in the past, and studied the transportation-related consequences of recent terrorist attacks, the panel determined that the loss of a critical bridge or tunnel at one of the numerous “choke points” in the transportation system could result in casualties, billions of dollars worth of direct reconstruction costs, and even greater socioeconomic costs.
TerraDol’s involvement in tunnel and bridge design against extreme loadings is based on national research on the subject and extensive experience in the analysis, design and construction of all types of tunnel and bridge structures. As the protective design was being performed, however, numerous questions and issues arose that, to date, have remained unclear or unanswered. Because the practice of tunnel and bridge design under extreme loadings is relatively young, little research work has been carried out on the subject.
Major transportation structures in USA are currently designed for extreme loadings such as earthquake, fire and explosion loadings. Current design strategy is to add protection materials for each extreme loadings, resulting in over conservative and expensive structures. Based on our experience, the issue deemed worthy of further research and testing is to develop a single protection material to resist all three extrem loadings: fire, earthquake and explosion.
TerraDol is currently conducting a research for this topic and preparing Patent’s registration. If anyone or organization wants to participate or support this research project, please contact us.