IBE News

Keep up to date with the latest news about IBE and its investigators

A civil engineering senior witnessed experts in the field of structural and bridge engineering discuss her research during the National Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) Conference in Miami, Florida.
An article on Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, about using airborne lidar, a pulsed laser light technology, to hasten rescues from compromised buildings interviews Chris Renschler, associate professor of geography and an investigator with MCEER.
A new research project, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), uses biologically inspired structural engineering. Specifically, the research team hopes to develop a lightweight composite system similar, in concept, to the armoring systems in turtle shells.
Last year, a UB assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, and two of her PhD students participated in two international bridge engineering events in 2017.
Last month, one staff and two faculty members from the UB Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering received honors at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) annual holiday party, along with several faculty and staff members throughout the school.

News on bridges around the world

New Engineer Magazine

Check out the latest issue of New Engineer magazine. IBE investgators and the University at Buffalo bridge concentration is featured heavily

University at Buffalo’s IBE Master of Science Graduates Earned ENV SP Title

Jerome O’Connor, P.E., Executive Director of the Institute of Bridge Engineering (IBE), announced today that a group of Master of Science graduates from the University at Buffalo’s IBE earned their ENV SP title from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). Each are now credentialed as an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) which documents their proficiency at rating how “green” a civil infrastructure project is. The American Public Works Association (APWA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) founded ISI, which operates under their oversight. The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and the Zofnass Program at Harvard University collaborated on developing Envision, for disseminating Envision worldwide, and in research projects related to the sustainability of infrastructure and the sustainability of cities. The following students are now ENV SP certified:

Adetunji Idris Adesina
Frank Michael Affrontil
Irsa Anwar
Younes Bachar
Gloribel Arlin Cespedes Melendez
Zhiteng Luo
Martin Ng
Caitlin Marie O'Leary
Ali Cem Ozkok
Veronica Ramirez
Matthew Durawa  

The Institute of Bridge Engineering participated in the 77th Annual NYSATE Conference, “Rebuilding Buffalo,” Adam’s Mark Hotel, Buffalo, NY, May 30 – June 2, 2017. Two UB students in the Bridge Engineering program, Adetunji Adesina and Younes Bachar, staffed the IBE booth. The following faculty from the University at Buffalo, CSEE/IBE presented at the conference:  Kamelia Atefi Monfared, Negar Elhami Khorasani and Ravi Ranade.

Dr. Negar Elhami Khorasani explains how the risk of fire can be assessed and mitigated for bridges and tunnels to an audience of NYS transportation engineers, June 1, 2017.

Dr Pinar Okumus Preparing NYSATE Conference Participants for a Tour of the Earthquake Simulation Lab, May 31, 2017.

Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Civil Engineering Seminar, University at Cartagena, Columbia

Jerome S. O'Connor, Executive Director, Institute of Bridge Engineering was invited by the University of Cartagena, Civil Engineering Program to be the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Civil Engineering Seminar being held at the university from May 24 - 26, 2017.

NSF Award Received by Pinar Okumus, Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo, CSEE

Pinar Okumus, Principal Investigator; Mettupalayam Sivaselvan, Co-Principal Investigator; and Dr. Aaleti, University of Alabama have been awarded an NSF Award of $290,000, for Collaborative Research: Resilient Seismic Retrofit by Integrating Selective Weakening and Self-Centering.

In this project, a new seismic retrofit method, integrating the concepts of selective weakening, hinged walls, and self-centering, will be investigated to achieve low seismic damage. The method will be targeted toward improving the performance of reinforced concrete shear walls that have design deficiencies related to confinement, transverse reinforcement, and reinforcement detailing, which have been associated with slender wall failures in past earthquakes.

Project outcomes will produce new basic knowledge needed to retrofit deficient concrete walls and develop more resilient buildings in seismic regions and thus contribute to seismic hazard mitigation in the United States and around the world.

UB Student Wins a Travel Scholarship for a Railroad Conference

Adetunji I. Adesina, a University at Buffalo, Senior Level Civil Engineering student was selected to receive the Swamidas K. Charan (John) Punwani Memorial Undergraduate Student Scholarship Fund. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Rail Transportation Division (RTD) offers ASME RTD Graduate and Undergraduate Student Scholarships. The scholarship will provide funds for Idris to participate in the Joint Rail Conference in Philadelphia, PA, April 4-7, 2017.  The conference is a leading international technical event in the USA, including all disciplines for freight and passenger rail transportation; mechanical, electrical, civil, and systems engineering, as well as rail safety, planning, design, manufacturing, financing, operations, and management.

Light Rail Across I-90 Floating Bridge Will Be First of its Kind; Construction Begins June 1 (Q13FOX)

Seattle is embarking on a $3.7 billion project that will connect to the Eastside over the I-90 Bridge starting June 1, 2017, as a way to reduce traffic and congestion. This project will create 14 miles of light rail connecting the Eastside to Seattle. Building a train structure over a floating bridge will be the first of its kind in the world. Trains are expected to start running by 2023.  The four-car trains will be at 8-minute headways in the peak hours, each direction, and a train crossing the I-90 Bridge every four minutes.  They are expecting ridership to reach about 50,000 daily by 2030.

Construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge to Begin Summer of 2018.   The Windsor-Detroit Authority will select a private Contractor in May or June 2018, and the contruction will begin shortly thereafter. The Authority announced they also have plan to include pedestrian and bike lanes in the plans for the bridge. (Michigan Live Media Group)

The first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge opened to New York City drivers on Thursday, April 27, 2017. This first phase of the replacement, costing $555 million. The new span will allow for three lanes in either direction until the second span can be completed.  The second phase of the bridge will be completed in 2020, requiring the "old" Kosciuszko bridge to be imploded. The original Kosciuszko Bridge was opened in 1939, was built for only $10,000. New York (WABC). Lauren Glassberg, April 24, 2017.

Only four highway tunnels have been completed over the last 10 years in the U.S.  Could there be a tunnel in Syracuse's future for Interstate 81? Several proposed tunnels were rejected by the DOT because they were too expensive, difficult to build and took too long to complete. The cost was between 2 and 3 billion dollars.

The Buffalo Evening News reported that Amherst was awarded $4.85 million to repair the southbound bridge over Ellicott Creek (Near the University at Buffalo).  The 2016 Bridge NY program awarded the $4.85 million to Amherst, NY to repair the bridges.  It is a concrete box beam bridge and carries the southbound traffic.  The State Department of Transportation bridge inspectors flagged the bridge previously due to deteriorating concrete and fascia.  The plan is to combine north and southbound traffic on the new bridge and convert the northbound bridge for pedestrians only.

Old New York Sees New Infrastructure on Horizon (U.S. News & World Report) - It’s not only aging roads, railways and bridges that bedevil the biggest states – it’s also what’s underground.  The Brooklyn Bridge is not in danger of falling into the East River, yet has been deemed structurally deficient...

Buffalo's new bridges abandon 'Soviet' design; reflect art, culture - Buffalo is blooming into a city of beautiful bridges, By Robert J. McCarthy

Cities want to believe in the hyperloop because US infrastructure is so bad

Local officials traveled to DC to see over the futuristic transit system, but are not ready to invest. The Verge, Apr 11, 2017, Andrew J. Hawkins

How Fire Destroyed the Atlanta I-85 Steel and Concrete Bridge, March 30, 2017...

"Not only does the extreme heat reduce the strength of the steel put inside the concrete for reinforcement, but it can also reduce the strength of the concrete itself," said UT Professor and Highway Design and Safety Engineer Dr. Stephen Richards.  Richards is an expert in safety and traffic, and understands the conditions needed to take down an interstate bridge. Video

New York plans to "blow up" 77-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge as replacement spans near completion In Albany, New York, State officials announced plans to collapse the approaches the 77-year-old span during the Summer of 2017. The $555 million project will replace the aging structure with two new spans of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  The first new bridge is expected to carry traffic by Spring 2017.  The second new bridge will be constructed in its place after the implosion.

Excessive rainfall on Friday evening, caused a massive mudslide in Mocoa, Colombia into early morning hours of  April 1, 2017, destroying  homes, roads and bridges. Estimated over 200 dead, many injured and missing.   

"It was torrential rainstorm, it got really strong between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.," said local resident Mario Usale, 42, who was looking for his father-in-law in the debris. April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

Colombia landslide leaves at least 254 dead and hundreds missing  Rescue teams scramble to find survivors after heavy rains in Putumayo province cause mud, rocks and gushing waters to engulf city of Mocoa (The Guardian).

Colombia Mudslide Sends Rescuers and Relatives on Race to Find Survivors, Colombia: Half a town has disappeared The people of Mocoa are in shock. The disaster there has claimed around 300 lives, and the full extent of the devastation is only just starting to become apparent. Meanwhile, the media are celebrating a hero. (DW.com)

Colombia Mudslide Sends Rescuers and Relatives on Race to Find Survivors  The destruction began with an overnight downpour of rain that lasted for hours, causing rivers around Mocoa to overflow their banks while most residents were sleeping. The resulting flood surged through the city on Saturday, carrying tons of debris, leveling houses and sweeping away cars and even large trucks.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) picks a plan to replace problematic Amtrak tunnel beneath Baltimore after years-long review The FRA says the best way to alleviate the bottleneck is to build four new single-track tunnels to replace the Baltimore and Poptomac Tunnel in W. Baltimore, MD.  The project is estimated cost $4.52 billion, but as of this time, no revenue source has been identified.

I-85 collapses after massive fire: 'The entire bridge is compromised,'  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Governor declared a state-of-emergency Thursday, March 30, 2017 at about 7 pm closing the interstate in both directions. There were no reported injuries.

Old Span Of Bay Bridge Going, Going, Gone.  “The deconstruction of the old eastern span is a fantastic story of incredible design, incredible deconstruction,” said Brian Maroney, Caltrans Toll Bridge Chief Engineer, in a prepared statement.

Dr. Andreas Stavridis Receives ABCD-WNY Award

Larry Mathews, ABCD-WNY’s Chapter Treasurer presented Jerome O’Connor of the Institute of Bridge Engineering with a $10,000 check. UB’s Dr. Andreas Stavridis will use the funds to develop a means of determining dead load stresses in existing concrete structural members.

Awesome infographic: How Civil Engineering Failures Advanced the Construction Industry. Engineers are challenged to find ways to repair structural failures to major infrastructure... an infographic that give insight to how they accomplish this task.

2017 Infrastructure Report Card - the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.  The 2017 report on bridges reveals that 9.1% of the bridges are rated structurally deficient.  

Raising of the Bayonne Bridge...

““There is no precedent” for raising a roadway within an existing arch.” 
Thomas McLaughlin, Area Manager, HDR


More than 55,000 U.S. bridges are in need of repair or replacement:  "...as bridges rust or concrete crumbles, there are serious consequences for consumers and taxpayers. The more rust erodes a bridge without a fresh coat of paint, the closer it grows to needing full replacement..." (Washington Post)

Nearly 56,000 Bridges Called Structurally Deficient.  The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) list of 55,710 deficient bridges includes high-profile spans such as Throgs Neck in New York, Yankee Doodle in Connecticut and Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. (USAToday)

AWESOME INFOGRAPHIC: HOW CIVIL ENGINEERING FAILURES ADVANCED THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.  "Although any disaster is tragic, engineering failures, such as the Oroville Dam, have played a pivotal part in advancing the civil engineering industry and developing new technologies." 


ROADS&BRIDGES magazine (VIDEO) visited the New NY Bridge project site The biggest bridge project in North America in 2018 is on schedule to be completed by the Tappan Zee Contructors, LLC.

Roadway Of Bayonne Bridge Reopens To Drivers, New York (CBSNewYork/AP) — The roadway of the Bayonne Bridge is set to re-open to drivers on Monday — just in time for the morning rush.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the bridge connecting Bayonne, NJ to Staten Island will completely open after years of work to raise the deck.

Feds Back Ambitious Plan To Speed Up Northeast Rail Service

The Federal Railroad Administration supports a 30-year, $120 billion plan to improve the Northeast Corridor. Work would include upgrading tunnels and bridges and smoothing out curves to speed service on the route between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Delaware River Turnpike Bridge to be closed at least 8 more weeks

The Delaware River turnpike bridge, shut down after a fracture was discovered in a steel truss two weeks ago, will be closed for at least eight more weeks, officials announced Friday, February 3, 2017.  The Pennsyvlania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnspike are connected by the Delaware River Bridge, a 60-year-old structure.  It is typically used by 42,000 vehicles daily. The emergency work is causing traffic issues and might not open until April. Motorists are currently being detoured miles out of their way.

Workers on Big California Bridge Tackle Oil Wells, Seismic Issues. Project managers cope with commuters, cargo trucks, trailers, trains and more.

Chao expected to advocate for improved transportation technology

During her confirmation hearing, new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that there is "a unique opportunity to address the exciting new technologies transforming travel and commerce." Autonomous vehicles and connected infrastructure are likely to be part of this, and Chao said, "We want to work with Congress to position the federal government as a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not as an implement -- and not as an impediment."  Government Technology online (1/31)

Ask Anthony: How Do I Get Enough Design Experience for My P.E. License If I Work in Construction?

“Civil engineers working in construction often ask this question. There is not a catch-all answer here, but the short answer is you must be persistent in finding ways to do design work in your job…”

Climate Disasters Cost U.S. $46 Billion as Flooding Leads List

Climate-based disasters caused $46 billion in damage and killed at least 138 in the 48 contiguous U.S. states last year, with inland flooding emerging as the costliest weather event for the first time since 1997... At least 1,300 roads and bridges were washed out in West Virginia by flooding there in June...

It took longer than expected, but Pittsburgh’s fire-damaged Liberty Bridge finally reopened last month.

Despite a fire on Pittsburgh’s Liberty Bridge last month, contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. missed by only four days a milestone to open the bridge’s fourth lane to traffic. Follow the progressive in the following ENR articles:

Pittsburgh’s Liberty Bridge Reopens Following Fire Fixes

Pittsburgh Contractor Keeps Rehab Close To Schedule After Liberty Bridge Fire

Repairs to Fire-Damaged Pittsburgh Bridge Pose Unexpected Challenges

Rushing to Repair Fire Damage to a Key Pittsburgh Bridge

Inside the ‘Tunnel’ Elon Musk Is Already Digging Under Los Angeles

Read about Elon Musk's project to boost tunnel-boring speeds.


The PA Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority closed the Friday, January 20, after finding a "completely severed" 14-inch I-beam underneath the riding surface during a routine painting inspection. Crews spliced metal plates into the fracture on the Pennsylvania side of the structure to temporarily stabilize the 1.2-mile bridge. The bridge runs from Bristol Township in Bucks County to Westampton Township in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Severed" 14-inch I-beam

The Winter 2017 issue of At Buffalo the Alumni Association magazine published quarterly is now available!

The coverage story is: Engineering History What does it take to build a state-of-the-art, 3-mile bridge over the Hudson River? Read about what it takes to build the New NY Bridge and how seven UB alumni are helping to bring it all together.


The U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx announced the recipients of the 2016 University Transportation Center Grants.  https://www.transportation.gov/utc/2016-utc-grantees.  The USDOT has decided not to make the award in three of the Federal Regions (Region 1, Region 2, and Region 3) and plans to issue a limited competition for these three regions in the near future.   

NSBA Newsletter.  A monthly update from the National Steel Bridge Alliance. Some items of interest:

SAVE THE DATE: NSBA Networking Event at SCOBS

Call for Papers - 2018 World Steel Bridge Symposium