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Bridge Component Gallery

This is a multi-acre gallery, which includes full-scale bridge structures, portions of complete structures, and individual components, with a host of common and uncommon details used in steel bridges. Similar centers exist for the aircraft, ship, and offshore industries, though nothing had previously been developed for the steel bridge industry.  Figure 1 below show aerial views of the first phase of construction for the S-BRITE Center Bridge Component Gallery (BCG).  The POD Research frame can be seen in the foreground of the left photo and the 65' span railroad bridge can just barely be seen in the far background.  Gravel pad research areas branch off the access road where a number of bridge components are and will be staged.  Additionally, active research is being conducted on some of these pads.   

The S-BRITE Center BCG provides unique hands-on education for professional engineers, inspectors and students like no other facility in the world. For example, imagine having several portions of the I-35W Bridge from Minneapolis (shown below in Figure 5) available for training on failure investigation, or other large structural components removed from service that can be used for education of students (university and K-12), engineers, and inspectors from around the country. The Gallery provides this experience for individuals of all levels regarding steel fabrication, deterioration, inspection techniques, etc. In addition, the S-BRITE Center will utilize Purdue's existing state-of-the-art training facilities so that professional training, as well as graduate and undergraduate courses can be conducted. A modest facility planned for the future at the Gallery which would include a small high-bay storage facility for receiving components, fabrication of control samples, indoor training associated with non-destructive testing, housing tools and equipment, etc.  Construction of Phase I was substantially completed in December of 2014 and the following figures show some of the bridge components already secured.

Since the bridge components are not actually in service and are in more accessible conditions, costly traffic control and extensive fall-protection is not required during training. However, they are being situated so that real-world conditions exist to truly simulate in-situ inspection conditions. As a result, those undergoing training can focus on the educational aspect of their visit while still being in representative conditions that are economical and safe. Having such a “living laboratory” is also incredibly useful for research tools being developed for inspection, durability modeling, and performance testing of inspectors.


Figure 1. S-BRITE Center Phase I showing an UAS-born view of the BCG; (Left) Looking Northeast, (Right) Looking Northwest

Damage to and deterioration of specimens in the Bridge Component Gallery have been well documented and characterized, including many specimens with fatigue cracks and corrosion.  These specimens are useful when evaluating different inspection techniques, such as that related to damage detection techniques that rely on image recognition, especially when combined with unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  Fortunately, Purdue and S-BRITE have recently obtained a Certificate of Authorization for UAS from the Federal Aviation Administration.  This offers a very unique opportunity, not only for UAS research and testing as it relates to bridges, but also as it relates to the development of policy and procedure for the flight of UAS's near active airfields, due to the proximity of the Purdue Airport.  

Click on the photos below to find out more information about the individual bridge components and the structures from which they originate.


Figure 2. I-90 Mississippi River (Dresbach) Bridge: 22' deep girders from the I-90 Mississippi River Bridge


Figure 3. Burlington Bridge: Connection from a late 1800's railroad eyebar truss


Figure 4. Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad Bridge: 1900's railroad girders

Figure 5. I-35W Mississippi River Bridge: Bridge bearing from the I-35W Bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis in 2007


Figure 6. I-35W Mississippi River Bridge: Pieces from the I-35W Bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis in 2007


Figure 7. Indian Trail Road Bridge: (91-ft. Pony Truss)

Figure 8. Lafayette Bridge: Shiplap bearing and expansion joint from the former Lafayette Bridge



Figure 9. Lafayette Bridge: 2-feet deep girder sections with repair of brittle fracture from the former Lafayette Bridge


Figure 10. Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge: 65-feet long railroad span

Figure 11. Indiana SR-55: Deck truss connections


Figure 12. White River Railroad Bridge: Bridge in original location


Figure 13. Modern plate girder specimens


Figure 14. Virginia Avenue Bridge: Fractured girder


Figure 15. CSX Bridge: Bridge bearing specimen


Figure 16. Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge: Span D-234

Figure 17. Grant County Bridge 10


Figure 18. Diefenbaker Bridge



Steel bridges and structures are the focus of the S-BRITE Center, other materials such as concrete, timber, etc. will be incorporated into the larger center, The Center for Aging Infrastructure (CAI), under future initiatives.