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VIDEO: Infrastructure Technology Institute: Keeping Roads and Bridges Safe

David Kosnik talks about keeping roads and bridges safe

In 2008, sensors installed along the Memorial Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky spotted a problem: a bolt in a bearing assembly had failed.

Repair crews were sent to the bridge, and the bolt appeared undamaged. But when experts from Northwestern’s Infrastructure Technology Institute (ITI) took a closer look, they saw that their sensors were right; while the bolt looked normal, it was so badly deteriorated that it could be pulled from the bridge by hand.

“It would have been very difficult to detect that with a hands-on inspection,” said Joseph Schofer, ITI’s director and associate dean of the McCormick School of Engineering, in a report by News@Northwestern, the University’s television news magazine. “We were able to provide that kind of information.”

As our nation’s bridges, highways, railroads, and mass-transit systems age – and with funding stretched thin – information about the condition of our infrastructure is increasingly important. Supported by a grant from the US Department of Transportation and housed at the McCormick School of Engineering, ITI collects data that keeps the government informed and our infrastructure safer.