Final Report (PDF)

Project TitleDevelopment of a Practical Risk Framework for Railway Bridge Stiffness Transition Maintenance and Upgrade
UniversityUniversity of Delaware
Principal Investigator(s)Joseph W. Palese
PI Contact
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)University of Delaware
Federal $48,323, Match $48,459
Total Project Cost$96,782
Start and End Dates3/1/19—3/1/20
Brief Description of Research ProjectThe objective of this research is to take advantage of historic measurement cycles to develop a risk index for bridge transitions that take into account the stiffness
differential (mean stiffness between zones), stiffness variation (variation around the mean), the train axle load, train operating speed, rate of degradation of the transition zone, length of the bridge, and other factors to be determined. The data that will be utilized to achieve this objective is vertical track deflection data, railway operating data and track geometry inspection data that was gathered over several runs in the course of one year. This data is readily available to the research team for 500 miles of railway with nearly a hundred bridges. The results of this research activity will be a framework for practically implementing a
risk index for bridge transitions that will allow the railway to prioritize bridges for maintenance and/or remedial action, as well as monitor the health of bridge transitions. In addition, the resulting framework will have the ability to identify the most cost
effective approach to managing the bridge transitions; status quo maintenance, implementation of a transition zone (and best approach), or matching stiffness through the bridge.