UT Arlington award will test bridge foundation work for Caltrans

California bridges

A University of Texas at Arlington researcher’s project will show whether California bridge foundations are safe and up to standards that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have set.

Xinbao Yu, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, has been awarded a two-year, $220,000 California Department of Transportation or Caltrans research project that will analyze and evaluate whether its bridge foundations are in accordance with the federal AASHTO standards.

“California needs to show AASHTO that what it does meets or exceeds those federal standards,” Yu said. “If California does that, then it saves a lot of future expense.”

Yu said California has the foundation load test data on paper files and needs to be digitized. His research will analyze and evaluate the current design methods used for the bridge foundations.

 “We have to run a statistical model on physical data of the bridge foundations along with any external factors to decide whether it meets those federal standards,” Yu said.

External factors include the number of vehicles driven across a bridge, the weight of those vehicles, the speed of those vehicles and potential earthquakes.

Yu did similar work for the state of Louisiana when he served as a research associate at Louisiana State University.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said Yu’s work has the potential for a broader reach.

“Since two states will be using Dr. Yu’s research, it could be implemented in other states needing such analytics for its infrastructure,” Behbehani said. “Additionally, the award was part of a very competitive process. Dr. Yu competed against some technically very strong leaders in the academic civil engineering world.”

Yu said Caltrans officials had relied on the agency’s own standards until this year. Until now, they had evaluated only one foundation per bridge when several foundations of supports may have existed per bridge, Yu said.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 48,000 students around the world and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.