Report No.: CCEER-12-1

Title: Bridges of the Future- Widespread Implementation of Innovation, An International Workshop to Develop Action Plans

Author:  Saiidi, M.

Date: January 2012

Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation, Center for Advanced Technology in Bridges and Infrastructure

Performing Organization:
Department of Civil Engineering/258
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557


A workshop entitled "Bridges of the Future- Widespread Implementation of Innovation,An International Workshop to Develop Action Plans" was held on June 6-7, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The objective of the workshop was to bring together a group of stakeholders in bridge engineering and experts in advanced materials to discuss key aspects of innovation in bridges and develop tangible immediate, short term, and longterm action plans for widespread implementation of innovation in common bridges.

The workshop was attended by 37 individuals. The participants consisted of six senior state bridge engineers, 15 research active members of the academia from the US and other countries, three Federal Highway Administration engineers, one senior program officer from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, three consulting bridge engineers, and seven advanced materials industry representatives.

The workshop began with a plenary session that included several presentations on examples of innovation in research and application in bridges in the US, Taiwan, and Canada. Most of the workshop was dedicated to discussions about different aspects of innovation. The participants were divided into three working groups to discuss three topics: (1) Bridge Types and Components to Incorporate Innovation-- Candidates for Early Adoption, (2), Opportunities, Obstacles, and Solutions to Widespread Adoption of Innovation in Bridge Engineering Practice, and (3) Education, Outreach, Research, and Information Dissemination Guidelines.

The primary recommendations of the workshop were categorized in the areas of (1) advanced materials and methods, (2) opportunities and barriers to innovation adoption, and (3) technology transfer. The challenge to widespread innovation in bridge engineering of common bridges was recognized but it was believed that the barriers are not insurmountable. Extensive use of market ready advanced materials was recommended as was research and development on these and novel materials and devices. Accelerated bridge construction should be considered on a routine basis due the many advantages of ABC, the most important of which addressing the public demand for faster construction and more durable bridges. The spread of P3 projects (public, private, partnership) is believed to be one of the avenues to facilitate bringing innovation into bridge engineering. The advantages of innovative bridges and construction methods should be quantifies through life cycle cost analysis and be communicated to stakeholders including the public. Other key elements to promote widespread adoption of innovation are development of codes, decision making tools, demonstration projects, and information dissemination to a wide range of stakeholders using a variety of mechanisms including social media. Furthermore, it was recommended to incorporate course modules on innovation in existing bridge engineering courses at educational institutions to help prepare future engineers to design and build bridges of the future.