Ice Loading on Piers for Minnesota's Bridges

Principal Investigator(s):

Jessica Kozarek, Research Associate, SAFHL - Hydraulic Lab


  • John Chapman, Research Associate Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
  • Brock Hedegaard, Associate Professor, UMD-Civil Engineering
  • Lauren Linderman, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

This project will evaluate and refine the Minnesota Department of Transportation?s (MnDOT's) current design ice loadings for bridge piers. Design ice loading methodologies in MnDOT bridge design manuals are well established nationally by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD); however, MnDOT specifies conservative ice parameters, including ice crushing strength and thickness, uniformly across the state. More cost-effective bridge designs may be possible considering appropriate ice loading thickness and ice crushing strength for different regions within Minnesota, especially given the variation across the state in current and future climate scenarios. The primary objectives are:

    1) Further the understanding of river ice on small- to intermediate-sized rivers.

    2) Determine typical parameters of thickness and crushing strength for river ice across Minnesota.

    3) Evaluate how river characteristics influence ice parameters and river ice loading.

    4) Provide more effective and efficient bridge pier and piling design methodologies for ice loading in Minnesota.

    Researchers will measure ice parameters including ice thickness and crushing strength as a function of river characteristics and location within the state. Additional real-time ice loading measurements will allow direct comparison between ice parameters and ice loading.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2024003
  • Start date: 07/2023
  • Project status: Active
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Bridge design and sensing