Research Thrust 1: Application of Innovative Materials and Technologies

The objective of Research Thrust 1 is to support the development, evaluation, and implementation of advanced materials and technologies to improve durability, extend service life, and reduce maintenance needs and costs of transportation infrastructure. Development of advanced materials enables new infrastructure designs, improves structural resilience to disasters, and accelerates construction and repair activities. Examples include new, highly durable materials and structural systems; multifunctional materials; self-healing materials; high-performance materials for rapid construction and repairs (e.g., prefabricated bridge elements and repairs); innovative winter maintenance materials; and development of material design and performance simulation platforms. Along with new materials, innovative technologies facilitate improved (e.g., rapid, reliable, and sustainable) construction, preservation, and operation of infrastructure assets. Examples include rapid reconstruction and repair methods to mitigate construction delays and work-zone safety risks, while accelerating disaster recovery; automated and miniature construction methodologies; 3D printing technology; intelligent materials processing control devices; and innovative recycling/rejuvenating technologies.

Research Thrust 2: Condition Assessment and Health Monitoring

The objective of Research Thrust 2 is to develop and field-test comprehensive, advanced and real-time data collection and analysis on the condition of transportation infrastructure elements, such as bridges, foundations, slopes, retaining structures, pavements, and rails and ties.

The work will be guided by four concepts:

  1. Combining and fusing assessment data from different sources
  2. Use of innovative data sources, such as existing sensors in everyday vehicles, new sensors and imaging technology in routine maintenance vehicles, or remote-controlled inspection equipment (e.g., on drones)
  3. Automated data/signal analysis, for example using machine learning techniques, and emerging visualization methods to produce high-level information
  4. Continuous, routine assessment processes and systems, providing continuous, repeatable, and reliable assessment of the present condition and rate of degradation

In Step 1, novel, automated condition assessment technologies will be developed (or extended). In Step 2, field demonstration projects will be conducted. And, in Step 3, we will develop and deliver short course materials for transportation agency personnel and inspection contractors, in addition to usual technical dissemination (e.g., reports).

Research Thrust 3: Infrastructure Management and Innovative Financing

The objective of Research Thrust 3 is to support informed collaborative and multi-objective decision making on investments for safe, reliable, resilient and sustainable infrastructure systems. Decision-support tools will be developed for the application of optimal policies and investment decisions reflecting observed and predicted performance and constraints. Holistic and multidisciplinary approaches will be used to aid in routine and strategic cross-asset infrastructure performance management. Effective infrastructure asset management, including the replacement and construction of new infrastructure, is Underwater inspection 10 limited by restricted funding. Innovative financing and contracting methods, including public-private partnerships, can extend public funds and speed deployment. This thrust area aims to develop or enhance existing decision-support tools for prioritizing and scheduling construction, rehabilitation, maintenance and repair investments, and devise innovative financing and contracting mechanisms for these activities. The tools will have visualization capabilities to support time-varying trade-off analyses and will take into consideration the following: multi-stakeholder, multi-objective, cross-asset, cross-mode, network-effects, availability of real-time sensor data and predictions, uncertainties in serviceability degradation rates, varying needs of agencies, and risks and consequences.