University receives grant from Rutgers to study roadway safety
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 00:09
The university has received a $300,000 grant to conduct research on the improvement of the safety and durability of roads and bridges from Rutgers University.
Civil and environmental engineering professor Sue McNeil stated in an email message that she has taken a special interest in the nation’s public roadways, focusing on improving its transportation systems. McNeil said she is part of a project led by the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University. The study will investigate methods to prevent early breakdown of the foundation of transportation structures.
“We were delighted that UD was invited to join the team as a key player,” McNeil said. “The grant involves projects at UD, collaborative projects and opportunities for networking.”
According to McNeil, the university will use the grant money to work on four projects. She said they will focus on testing non-destructive experiments, predicting pavement performance, understanding new materials and exploring better performance measures.
Graduate engineering fellow Diane Wurst said she will be leading the research collection process and will specifically look into the effects of corrosion on rebar, a metal put in concrete to reinforce it. According to Wurst, this is a long-term problem in bridge construction she hopes to correct and she also hopes to continue to work on bridge construction in the future.
“As an undergraduate, I did some structural health monitoring research which is similar, but I never really did any bridge work at all,” Wurst said. “But I like this more. What I want to get into after I graduate is repairing and rehabilitation of bridges, so this is right up my alley.”
McNeil said the university has previously gotten involved in major physical infrastructure research programs. She said in 2010, the university finished a project for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which showed that improving the structure of roads and bridges contributes to economic growth.
“Physical infrastructure is the foundation for a healthy economy,” McNeil said. “Transportation is essential to get raw materials to industry, goods to markets and consumers and to support the service economy as workers have to get to work.”
McNeil said the deterioration of transportation pathways poses difficult challenges for upkeep and reconstruction.
“Aging roads and structures consume more resources as they have to be repaired more frequently and more extensively,” said McNeil. “These also have to be repaired while you keep them open for traffic, which is disruptive for the users.”
Although the project seems to be a bit of a mystery to most students, several of them support the ideas of it.
Freshman Stacie Lane said local roads could use improvement.
“The roads could probably use a little bit of work,” Lane said. “Some of the roads could be bigger, and the bridges need to be strong enough for storms.”
McNeil also said the funding from Rutgers is essential to the success of the project.
“The amount of money allows us to continue the activities that we have been involved in with the University of Delaware University Transportation Center,” McNeil said.