In the next 10 years, some railway bridges are expected to be strengthened, have to be replaced, and the deck of other additional bridges has to be replaced too MAINLINE, As an example, in China, the total number of bridges has surpassed the United States, ranking first in the world. But an important fact occurs. Although the average age of bridges in China is much smaller than those in the US, the proportion of structurally deficient bridges has already surpassed the US Zhang et al. With this actual situation in mind, we may expect an even more dramatic situation in those developing countries in the years to come.
A new life-cycle perspective that equally balances all phases of the bridge life design, construction, service life and demolition becomes evident as opposed to the former view mainly oriented to the new construction. But the new life-cycle approach will not only increase the efforts in the management of existing bridges. It is already feeding new trends in the design and construction areas too. Concepts related to the in-service performance of bridges as robustness the ability to react to unforeseen actions, not accounted for during the design stage, with a response proportional to the unpredicted action and resilience the ability to recover from disasters in an efficient and quick way have appeared in the design codes and practices because of a major need to design safer and more durable bridges.
But also because of the raising concerns on climate change, natural hazards and disasters, and the need of minimizing their effects to bridge assets and to mitigate the threats to urban areas. Consequently, the bridges of the future not only must be safe, economic at the time of construction and along the whole service life and durable, but also robust and resilient.
The raising concerns on sustainability and environment-friendly interventions have also come into the bridge scene. In this sense, the concept of life-cycle assessment LCA already used in other engineering fields has appeared in the bridge field as an useful decision-making tool to respond to the need to optimize the available economic resources. Performance-based design versus code-based design is also a new concept mainly for large design or repair and strengthening bridge projects.
As new challenging requirements will be arriving to the bridge designers from the society and users in the near future longer spans, higher actions associated to climate change, longer service-lives, new materials, environmental effects, …. For those large bridge projects, the trend in their financial needs for construction and maintenance will be increasingly oriented toward a design-build D-B basis and public—private partnership P3.
And the ability to get private funding will be, again, based on LCA and risk analysis by the private investors. The new P3 approach for bridge funding will have a strong influence on the esthetics and conceptual design of bridges too. The D-B concept will also evolve to the more general D-B-maintain philosophy. Private investors will place their money on most economical bridges, not only to build, but also to manage. The trend is on the cost-efficient procurement, from a life-cycle perspective, to improve future bridge-investment decisions.
Life-cycle cost analysis tools are needed. As a professor involved in the education of future bridge engineers, I would like to mention the influence of the growing service-life aspects in the education and University curricula. Till now, the need of the society to build new bridges had its echo on the content of bridge engineering courses, only dealing with design and construction issues.
However, to respond to the future needs, we have to educate future bridge engineers with new skills, allowing them to face the new challenges related to maintenance aspects, from conceptual design to demolition. Therefore, the content of bridge courses has to balance all aspects of bridge service-life. In conclusion, the conception of the bridges of the future will be more and more strongly influenced by the future of bridges, i.
The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Google Scholar. Zhang, X. Keywords: construction processes, bridge, transportation infrastructures, modelling, computer tools, sustainability, performance-based design, code-based design. Citation: Casas JR The bridges of the future or the future of bridges?
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The bridges of the future or the future of bridges? Conclusion The bridges of the future will look more or less alike to the current ones. Since short time ago, a new situation asking for a more open focus into the areas of bridge maintenance and service-life aspects has appeared as a result of the following facts: - In developed countries, a huge stock of bridges exists and it should be properly maintained to guarantee the safety to their users.
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