Date of Award

Fall 2010

Project Type


Program or Major

Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Erin Santini Bell


The currently accepted bridge design practice is individual element design through approximate "worst-case" loading scenarios and distribution with appropriate safety factors. The resulting design is not necessarily representative of the true behavior of a bridge. Computer structural modeling advancements have made it practical to improve the design process by capturing the design intelligence in the bridge model for use in bridge management and condition assessment. Nearly 1/3 of U.S. bridges are nearing the end of their design life and the design of the next generation of highway bridges has begun. The time is optimum to consider advancements in bridge design protocol for inclusion of baseline modeling.

A baseline structural model is created and verified using collected field data during construction. This model is then integrated with instrumentation and field testing as part of a long-term structural health monitoring program. The model can be used and updated for the purpose of design verification, condition assessment, load rating and proactive maintenance.