Impact of climate change on the integrity of the superstructure of deteriorated U.S. bridges

Autoři: Susan Palu aff001;  Hussam Mahmoud aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223307


Bridges in America are aging and deteriorating, causing substantial financial strain on federal resources and tax payers’ money. Of the various deterioration issues in bridges, one of the most common and costly is malfunctioning of expansion joints, connecting two bridge spans, due to accumulation of debris and dirt in the joint. Although expansion joints are small components of bridges’ superstructure, their malfunction can result in major structural problems and when coupled with thermal stresses, the demand on the structural elements could be further amplified. Intuitively, these additional demands are expected to even worsen if one considers potential future temperature rise due to climate change. Indeed, it has been speculated that climate change is likely to have negative effect on bridges worldwide. However, to date there has been no serious attempts to quantify this effect on a larger spatial scale with no studies pertaining to the integrity of the main load carrying girders. In this study, we attempt to quantify the effect of clogged joints and climate change on failure of the superstructure of a class of steel bridges around the U.S. We surprisingly find that potentially most of the main load carrying girders, in the analyzed bridges, could reach their ultimate capacity when subjected to service load and future climate changes. We further discover that out of nine U.S. regions, the most vulnerable bridges, in a descending order, are those located in the Northern Rockies & Plains, Northwest and Upper Midwest. Ultimately, this study proposes an approach to establish a priority order of bridge maintenance and repair to manage limited funding among a vast inventory in an era of climate change.

Klíčová slova:

Autumn – Built structures – Climate change – Concrete – Spring – Summer – Thermal stresses – Winter


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Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 10