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June 2015

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This month’s newsletter includes information about:

    • NSBA Webinar on NEW Continuous Span Standards and LRFD Simon Software.
    • University of Texas Bridge Software Update (Version 1.6).
    • NSBA Legislative Update - Highway Funding Deadline Pushed Back Two Months.
    • "Game Changer" Super Crane used to lift Tappan Zee Bridge Superstructure.
    • SSSBA Expresses Appreciation to Retiring Michael Engestrom.
    • Mark your Calendar for these Upcoming Events.

NSBA Webinar on NEW Continuous Span Standards and LRFD Simon Software.

 NSBA logo
On June 25, 2015 the National Steel Bridge Alliance will hold an educational webinar on the new Continuous Span Standards and LRFD Simon software. The standards, developed in conjunction with Commonwealth Engineers & Consultants, Inc of Providence, RI, utilize the NSBA’s LRFD Simon software to develop preliminary plate girder sizes for three span bridges.

The standards address bridges with five girders in the cross section under balanced geometry configurations: center spans between 150 ft and 300 ft and end spans at 78% of the center span. Girder spacings for these geometries will range between 7’-6” and 12’-0”. Plate sizes have been optimized for cost and provide the necessary information to quickly compare alternatives and establish preliminary pricing. All solutions are based upon the AASHTO LRFD 7th edition and HL 93 live loading. Homogenous and hybrid plate girder solutions are prepared with the homogenous solutions utilizing ASTM A709 50W steel throughout the girder while the hybrid solutions utilize ASTM A709 50W steel for the web and ASTM A709 HPS70W steel in selected portions of the flanges.

In addition tabulated data for each of the 88 solutions available as a .pdf file,NSBA is providing the Simon input files for each solution so an engineer can quickly make adjustments based upon their specific geometries or loading. A tutorial of utilizing this unique feature will follow the standards walkthrough.


Celita Vargas is a design engineer at Commonwealth Engineers & Consultants Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island and has more than eight years of structural bridge design experience. Her areas of focus includes steel and prestressed concrete superstructure design as well as design of substructure elements such as pile foundations, spread concrete footings and GRS foundations. She has worked extensively in structural modeling and analysis and utilized the NSBA LRFD Simon software to develop the Continuous Span Standards. Celita has worked on projects which include the 2,265 foot multi-span Sakonnet River bridge which utilized steel curved tub girders and the Route 6/Route 10 interchange replacement which included multiple single span and multispan built-up steel I-girder bridges. Celita is a 2007 graduate of the University of Rhode Island where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. While there, she assisted graduate students in field and laboratory testing of fiber reinforced piles and assessed composite and timber piles in the marine environment using nondestructive testing.

Chris Garrell is the Southeast Regional Director for the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) where his responsibilities include supporting state transportation officials and design consultants on issues spanning the life cycle of steel bridges. Prior to joining NSBA, Chris spent 12 years working for Bentley Systems where he was a product manager for structural engineering—BIM. Before joining Bentley, he was a bridge engineer with STV, Incorporated. Chris holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University at Buffalo, a Master's of Engineering in software engineering and a master's degree in systems engineering—both from Penn State.

Click here to register.

University of Texas Bridge Software Update (Version 1.6)

A new version of the UT Bridge software will be released in the coming weeks. The latest release will be the first of a series of releases that are likely over the next year incorporating a number of modifications that are planned for the software. UT Bridge is a three-dimensional finite element program capable of modeling steel bridge systems during erection and construction. The software includes a simple-to-use pre-processor to facilitate the creation of a robust model of the bridge system during various stages of construction. The program is applicable to straight and horizontally curved steel I-girder systems. Once the basic model is created, various erection scenarios or deck placement schemes can be easily considered to evaluate the structural behavior. The user can investigate the use of shore towers, holding cranes, partial stiffening of the concrete during placement, as well as a number of other construction conditions. The program carries out either a first-order structural analysis or an eigenvalue buckling analysis to provide a measure of the behavior of the structural system throughout the construction process.

The upcoming release 1.6 will primarily consist of fixes of some bugs that have been found in version 1.5-1. The primary focus of the bug fix is an error in the kinematics of the model in the connection between the flange and web elements that can overestimate the stiffness of the system. Later releases of the software that are also currently underway include a new solver and eigensolver as well as updating the elements that are used to model the webs, flanges, and stiffeners in the program to provide a better representation of the girder cross section. Additional changes that are being considered are the use of a wider range of geometries for cross frame systems (X-type and K-type), lean-on bracing, and a number of other modeling capabilities. The developers also are evaluating the ability of eventually incorporating non-linear geometry into the analysis so that second-order effects can be considered in the analysis.

UT Bridge is free for download at the following site:https://fsel.engr.utexas.edu/software/index.cfm
Release Version 1.6 should be available in the coming weeks.

Dr. Todd A Helwig is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering and Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory

UT Bridge update

NSBA Legislative Upate - Highway Funding Deadline Pushed Back Two Months

 At the end of May, the U.S. Senate passed an extension to the current highway bill that maintains current funding levels through the end of July. The legislation is an extension of the previous 10-month extension and provides no new funding.

While this temporary reprieve will allow work to continue it is by no means a solution to the nation’s infrastructure woes. It’s anticipated the Highway Trust Fund will be depleted by August and it’s critical that Congress passes a new transportation funding act. Unfortunately, it is more likely that in July another extension is provided and a new funding program won’t be created until the end of the year at the earliest, which means funding for bridge projects will be imperilled for the fourth quarter.

The good news is that if rumours are true, December’s new legislation will be a solid, well-thought-out, comprehensive plan with a six-year lifespan. The bad news is expectations are for funding to simply maintain the status quo, that is, expenditures of about $50 billion per year, adjusted for inflation.

What does all this mean for the bridge market?

Many states have already restricted long-term spending. The current unfunded extension does nothing to help with this. It is likely most states will use the known amount of funding from now until August to do as much maintenance, repair and patching as they can with minimal long-term capital projects.

If a new Transportation Act isn’t passed until December, new large-scale projects will only reach the design stage in 2016 and won’t reach the construction phase until 2017 at the earliest.

The expected level of funding is a serious long-term problem. The $50 billion per year funding level is inadequate to maintain the current infrastructure. If we want to both maintain and expand our nation’s transportation capabilities a funding level of between $70 and $90 billion is required.

States will increasingly turn to alternate funding strategies, including Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), an expansion of toll roads and private financing.

It’s critical for all AISC and NSBA members to be proactive. We need to contact our elected representatives, and especially our Senators since it’s expected the Senate will take the lead role in any new legislation. We need to let them know how important this legislation is and how many jobs are at stake.

Pat Loftus is Chairman Emeritus and Legislative Consultant for the National Steel Bridge Alliance

"Game Changer" Super Crane used to lift Tappan Zee Bridge Superstructure

ON THE HUDSON RIVER – The whipping winds and choppy waves rocking the tugboat Friday as it made its way across the Hudson River were a good reminder of why Tappan Zee Bridge builders refer to the 'I Lift NY' super crane as a 'game changer.'

Capable of lifting nearly 2,000 tons — or about 12 Statutes of Liberty — in one motion and then setting its load down in just a few hours, the crane has amassed a superstar reputation among bridge builders.

Its inaugural lift of the first of many steel-reinforced concrete pile caps planned for the project is such a critical milestone that bridge builders invited members of the media out onto the water to witness it.

To continue reading click here.


Photo:  Peter Carr/The Journal News

SSSBA Expresses Appreciation to Retiring Michael Engestrom

Mike Engestrom, the driving force behind the creation and growth of the ShortSpan Steel Bridge Alliance, has retired from Nucor-Yamato Steel and has thus also retired as chairman of the SSSBA.

Mike was a strong proponent for starting an organization that focused specifically on growing the market for short span steel bridges with partners from all aspects of the bridge construction spectrum. He was an integral part of all phases in the creation of the new group, from developing the business plan, to recruiting new partners and organizations, to directing the course for growth, to participating on the Executive Council as well as the subcommittees, and everything in between. His vision and enthusiasm for the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance and its partners have been instrumental in growing the organization to 82 members and expanding its influence to Mexico and Canada. Since the inception of the SSSBA in 2007, Mike has participated in most of the meetings and has represented the Alliance countless times at industry events. His influence in directing the organization’s growth and course of direction cannot be overstated. He will be sorely missed!

We sincerely thank Mike for all of his excellent work over the years and we wish him and his family all the best in retirement.

Mark your Calendars!

Did you miss us at the International Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.?  Come visit us at these upcoming events.

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NSBA Booth at the International Bridge Conference (June 7 - 11) in Pittsburgh, PA.