University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
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The Institute of Bridge Engineering provides engineers with the knowledge and managerial skills needed to help steward the nation’s bridge infrastructure enterprise and ultimately assume a leadership role. IBE research leads to improved practices in areas of identified need that result in safe, hazard-resistant structures that are cost-effective and sustainable.

A bird's eye view of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.

A bird's eye view of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Need

Traffic volumes and truck weights have increased substantially over the years, which means that much of the country's road network was not designed for current traffic conditions. In addition, some highway bridges are being used beyond the 50-year service life for which they were designed. Many of those are in need of repair, rehabilitation or total replacement because of their age and condition. Occasionally, the combination of increased loads on a bridge and its deteriorated condition may require extraordinary action. If funds are available, a bridge may be able to be kept in service. However, unsafe bridges are closed to traffic to assure the safety of the traveling public. Still, there are many bridges in use that are classified as functionally obsolete. They are too narrow, weight restricted, or inadequate for today's transportation needs in some other way.

The Importance

In its strategic plan, the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures states....

"The quality of the technical workforce must be maintained to address the rapid development of new technology and the preservation of existing technology. This workforce quality is also being challenged by the loss of institutional memory due to downsizing and retirements. At the same time, the current workforce needs to be trained in succession planning and leadership development. Improvement in relationships between the various bridge industry sectors (including owners, consultants, industry and academe) can assist in maintaining a quality workforce."

UB's Response

The Institute of Bridge Engineering exemplifies the university's commitment to sustainable practice in the field of civil engineering. The IBE was founded in 2013 to improve the performance of bridges through research and education. We give students and practicing engineers the broad spectrum of tools needed to manage the bridge enterprise. We also are a resource center for bridge owners who face escalating problems of deterioration, obsolescence and the risks associated with climate change.