Cost-competitive Timber Bridge Designs for Long Term Performance

Principal Investigator(s):

Donald Fosnacht, Associate Director, UMD-NRRI

Project summary:

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) data shows that only 17 timber beam or slab bridges have been constructed in Minnesota since 2000. During the same period, more than 475 concrete slab spans or prestressed, concrete beam bridges have been constructed. This is due to a number of factors, including misconceptions about the durability, structural adequacy, and expense of constructing timber bridges. However, significant advancements in the design, preservation, maintenance, and inspection of modern timber bridges have been made.

Recent national service life assessment research has shown that timber is a durable option for primary structural members in highway bridges and can perform satisfactorily for more than 50 years when properly designed, fabricated, and maintained. However, both anecdotal assumptions and cost reports have indicated that timber bridges are more expensive than concrete bridges to construct.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016038
  • Start date: 12/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Bridge design and sensing