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Researchers Aim to Make Longer, More Durable Concrete Bridge Girders
Engineering researchers at The University of Alabama are testing massive concrete girders in a campus laboratory to find ways for bridges to span longer distances with fewer supports underneath.
Less support structures could lead to lower construction costs, and longer spans would mean fewer disturbances over water, wetlands, or other natural habitats. In urban areas, such as interstates that sit over city streets, fewer supports would mean less disruption of traffic and business below. The 2-year project with the Alabama Department of Transportation should end with recommendations on how to design and build concrete girders that can span 55 m (180 ft), approximately 4.5 m (15 ft) longer than the longest concrete girders currently used in the state. Bridges presently needing longer spans use different designs and more expensive materials than concrete girders.
The project is focused on small cracks that appear at the...