November 01, 2022
Mizzou Engineering recently hosted the biannual Missouri Bridge Conference, bringing representatives from academia, government agencies and industry together to discuss current challenges and priority projects.
This year was especially important as federal funding becomes available for infrastructure projects at a time communities are facing supply chain problems and labor shortages, said Glenn Washer, professor of civil and environmental engineering.
“There are big changes coming with the bipartisan infrastructure bill with significant increases in funding for bridges, including local bridges managed by cities and counties,” Washer said. “That presents some challenges because localities tend to have less engineering support. They’ll need help scaling up local bridge programs, so information on how that might come about will be important.”
The Missouri Bridge Conference began in 2015 to provide a forum for bridge engineers from across the state to collaborate. Washer co-organized this year’s event, held Oct. 19, with Henry Brown, a research engineer for the civil and environmental engineering department.
“It’s a good opportunity to network and interact with other bridge engineers and hear about research and upcoming projects,” Brown said. “The conference provides an opportunity for the bridge community in Missouri to get together and share ideas about bridges, which are a critical part of Missouri’s infrastructure allowing for the transportation of people and goods.”
This year, participants also discussed the ongoing need to test the load-bearing capacity of Missouri bridges. While the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) maintains 10,000 of the state’s larger bridges, 14,000 bridges in the Missouri are controlled by local municipalities that may need external support.
“It’s important for MoDOT to be able to tell the community of contractors and consultants about these projects and the needs that are coming,” Washer said.
During the day-long conference, Washer also gave a featured presentation on the Steel Bridge Research, Inspection, Training and Engineering (S-BRITE) Center at Purdue. Washer has been involved in the center since its founding. Sponsored by multiple states, S-BRITE provides support and research around the inspection and maintenance of aging infrastructure using parts from bridges that have been removed.
Additionally, Bill Buttlar provided an update on the Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation. Buttlar is center director and Glen Barton Chair in Flexible Pavement Technology at Mizzou Engineering.
This year’s Missouri Bridge Conference attracted about 150 participants, including members of the Civil Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni. It’s expected to be held again in 2024.
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