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Homeland Security

Bridge and Tunnel Security

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) envisioned a multiyear program that would address securing the existing infrastructure and that would lead to the next generation of bridges and structures that are resilient to terrorist threat. Terrorist threats to bridges can include:

  • Fire (can lead to buckling of steel beams and spalling of concrete)
  • Impact (can lead to damage of piers, causing collapse of the superstructure, and failure of hangers, again resulting in collapse of the superstructure)
  • Mechanical cutting devices (can lead to cutting of hangers, resulting in collapse of the superstructure)
  • Corrosive chemicals
  • Blast or explosion (can lead to severe damage of the structure)

Terrorist threats to tunnels can include:
  • Fire
  • Impact
  • Chemical/biological attack
  • Blast/explosion
While The FHWA recognizes the need to design for all threats, bombs constitute 60 percent of terrorist attacks worldwide.

The proposed FHWA program focused on the following strategic areas to reduce the threat of damage to the infrastructure so that there is minimal loss of life, the infrastructure can stay open for movement of people and goods, and there will be little or no impact on the economy. The recommended strategic focus areas for bridge and tunnel security R&D include:

  • Risk and Vulnerability Assessment - Develop better decision support tools, and more relevant and uniform methodologies for assessing the risk to and vulnerability of the highway infrastructure.
  • System Analysis and Design - Develop new analysis and design methodologies for highway bridges and tunnels to minimize physical damage.
  • Improved Materials - Explore and develop new materials, and improve on current materials for the next generation of bridges and tunnels.
  • Prevention, Detection, and Surveillance - Adapt existing technologies and develop new technologies for better detection and surveillance and prevention of terrorist incidents.
  • Post-Event Assessment - Goal: Develop guidelines for assessing the safety of structures after an event.
  • Repair and Restoration - Develop better repair and restoration techniques to restore a structure to its original capacity.
  • Evaluation and Training - Test and evaluate new technologies, and develop training aids to transfer new technologies.

According to the above mentioned strategic areas, studies and projects would be conducted in order to determine strengths and weaknesses in each area. Vulnerability assesments based on bridge and tunnel performance under military conditions and natural disaster conditions would held determine recommended solutions for each tunnel/bridge design type, and recommendations for future work. Creating a struction that could withhold the blast of a terrorist attack is key in developing bridge/tunnel security.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:50:50 ZULU