KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Local governments can save money by replacing small, weakened concrete and steel bridges in rural areas with ones made of timber, two University of Tennessee researchers said Thursday.
Dr. Paul Winistorfer, a UT-Knoxville forestry professor, and Dr. Richard Bennett, an engineering professor, are writing a guidebook on how to do it.
Numerous studies have shown that much of the nation’s bridge infrastructure is old, weakened by years of use and will soon need replacing.
Winistorfer said timber bridges are less expensive, can be built faster than concrete or steel, and require less specialized labor to build.
New designs and better preservative treatments make timber bridges last longer, he said.
Winistorfer said the book will be a field guide to help local engineers inspect timber bridges.
“The average inspector does a thorough job”…but doesn’t have any guidebook to “walk out into the field with,” Winistorfer said.
“This book will be a guide with some very basic elements of timber bridge building and inspection.”
The manual is scheduled to be complete by December, Winistorfer said. It will contain color photographs illustrating types of bridges, bridge mechanics, stress points, wood properties, weakened or rotted parts, and other topics.
The project is funded by the U.S. Forestry Service and the Federal Highway Administration.
Contact: Dr. Paul Winistorfer (423-974-7126)
Dr. Richard Bennett (423-974-7540)