Team of 5 Given Wellington Prize

June 26, 2020

ASCE has honored the writing team of Ran Cao, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE; Anil K. Agrawal, P.E., F.SEI, M.ASCE; Sherif El-Tawil, P.E., F.ASCE; Xiaochen Xu; and Waider Wong with the 2020 Wellington Prize for their paper “Heavy Truck Collision with Bridge Piers: Computational Simulation Study,” Journal of Bridge Engineering, June 2019.

Highway bridges form critical nodes in the transportation infrastructure network and are exposed to various types of hazards, e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, impacts. Recent data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other studies show that the bridge overload and lateral impact from trucks, ships and trains constitute 20 percent of the total bridge failures. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that annually 1,000 buses or trucks (10,000 lbs. gross weight or greater) collide with bridge structures. In recent years, numerous catastrophic collapses of bridges have occurred after the accidental collisions of heavy vehicles with bridges’ piers, resulting in the loss of life and significant economic damage to the surrounding regions. In spite of the importance of this problem, current AASHTO specifications that deal with truck impact are quite deficient due to lack of research in this area.

In their paper, the authors address this specific problem. They investigate the impact of a tractor-semitrailer model that has been calibrated and verified through numerous tests, on bridge piers. For the first time, the authors show that the impact force because of heavy trucks consists of spikes associated with bumper, engine and trailer impacts and that these spikes should be accounted for in the impact load model.

Based on this work, the authors have published a model for heavy truck loads in subsequent publications that could serve as a prototype for future AASHTO specifications for vehicle impact. The basis of this model is the work presented in the nominated paper. Hence, this work will have significant impact on how bridge piers could be designed to sustain impacts from heavy trucks, which will improve the safety of bridges nationwide while preventing congestions caused by such impacts.

Cao is a graduate student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, City College of New York.

Agrawal is a professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, City College of New York.

El-Tawil is a professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan.

Xu is a graduate Student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, City College of New York.

Wong is an engineer with the Federal Highway Administration.

The Arthur M. Wellington Prize is awarded to the author or authors of a paper on transportation on land, on the water, in the air or on foundations and closely related subjects.


Ran Cao, Ph.D., A.M.ASCE

Sherif El-Tawil, P.E., F.ASCE

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