Ensuring sturdier bridges

Dr. Ben Dymond has collected data that will help keep the Blatnik Bridge structurally sound and commuters safe.

Ensuring that our country’s aging bridges and roads are safe and reliable takes expertise. Throughout his career, UMD Civil Engineering Professor Ben Dymond has focused on the resiliency of reinforced and prestressed concrete infrastructures.

Dymond and two of his students had the opportunity to carry out research on the Blatnik Bridge. This bridge is an important transportation artery and carries over 35,000 commuters between Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, every day.

Dymond’s team worked with private engineering firm WSP to evaluate the load capacity of the bridge and understand how the weight of heavy truck loads impacts the bridge over time. To do that, the team attached sensors to the underside of the Blatnik Bridge

Data from the sensors are helping both Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation determine what kind of maintenance the bridge needs to stay strong. Data may also inform the design of the bridge that will be built at the end of this decade to replace the present-day Blatnik Bridge.

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