The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(02) [Completed]

Bridge/Tunnel/Highway Infrastructure Vulnerability Workshops

  Project Data
Funds: $277,000
Research Agency: Science Applications International Corporation
Principal Investigator: Shahed Rowshan
Effective Date: 9/10/2002
Completion Date: 6/30/2004


Following the events of 9-11, bridge and highway infrastructure engineers have suddenly been faced with a very new and unexpected challenge, the challenge of providing physical security to critical structures. While the 9-11 event involved attacks against buildings, recent threats made against bridges and tunnels and other highway infrastructure in various parts of the United States has heightened awareness about this new threat. Bridge and highway engineers are being asked the urgent questions of how vulnerable these structures are and what can be done to reduce this vulnerability. Bridge engineers have developed systematic processes for assessing vulnerability to a variety of natural processes (earthquakes, fatigue, scour, etc.), but engineers are not equipped to answer terrorism-related questions. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. A Guide to Highway Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Asset Identification and Protection (SAIC, May 2002) was prepared under the auspices of the AASHTO Task Force on Transportation Security. Further, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has long considered how to make key structures more resilient against enemy attack.

In order to rapidly develop and transfer knowledge within the bridge community to improve structure protection against attack, a series of workshops is being proposed.


Develop and deliver three workshops. Transfer knowledge from the products developed by the AASHTO Task Force on Transportation Security and introduce key bridge and structures engineers/managers to the current state-of-the-art in the field of bridge, tunnel, and other highway infrastructure vulnerability analysis and protection measures. The workshops will be tailored to convey sufficient information such that participants can conduct a vulnerability assessment of their bridges and tunnels and develop appropriate threat protection plans.

The proposed hosts for these workshops are California, Texas, and New York. About 50 persons can be expected at each of the three workshops, for a total participant attendance of 150. The invitees should include the chief bridge engineer and one other key person from each state DOT, as well as federal, in-state, and local personnel invited by the state hosts. The project budget should cover the costs of meeting space, refreshments, and audiovisual equipment. For proposal purposes please assume $30,000 will cover these costs. Each workshop should be no more than two full days or 12 contact hours per workshop.


Task 1. Develop detailed workshop concept and plan. The contractor shall develop an outline of the proposed workshop program including the key concepts to be covered, case study presentations (with host agency and FHWA support), definition of exercises, presentation and read-ahead materials, participants notebooks, and a timeline for each of the tasks to be undertaken in this project.

The workshop concept should be based largely on the May 2002 report prepared for the AASHTO Security Task Force under NCHRP Project 20-7/151B entitled A Guide to Highway Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Asset Identification and Protection. Other relevant materials may also be included, such as information from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Defense, and other related agencies about the vulnerability of bridges, tunnels, and other highway infrastructure to terrorists' threats.
    Task 2. Prepare for, Deliver, and Support three regional workshops to an audience of key bridge and structures engineers/managers. The Contractor shall:
    A. Work with each host agency to arrange for a meeting space to accommodate the workshop and ensure that needed materials are produced and delivered on time.
    B. Work with the host agency, AASHTO, and FHWA to identify invitees, develop invitations, and issue invitations and materials accompanying the invitations.
    C. Work with the host agency, AASHTO, and FHWA to identify and prepare appropriate case studies and exercises.
    D. Develop, produce, and deliver to the workshop site any necessary materials needed for the workshop (e.g., agenda, registration and attendee lists, worksheets, nametags, handouts, copies of presentations, case studies, checklist, technical guidance, lessons learned, exercise elements, etc.).
    E. Provide workshop leaders and/or facilitators. Develop a workshop agenda and materials to include, at a minimum, the following topics:
      • Overview of AASHTO Task Force products
      • Overview of terrorist threats to bridges, tunnels, and other highway infrastructure
      • Structural response to blast-induced loadings
      • Bridge, tunnel, and other highway infrastructure vulnerability to explosive attack
      • Vulnerability and risk assessment
      • Mitigation methods
      • Owner's issues
    F. Manage the reimbursement of participant travel. Participants will be laying out state and personal funds in order to travel to the workshops. Expeditious processing of their refunds is a top priority. Refunds should be processed and reimbursement checks sent to requesters within 4 weeks of contractor receipt of completed reimbursement request forms.

    Task 3. Workshop follow-up Report. The contractor shall prepare a final report with lessons learned and workshop participant recommendations for consideration by AASHTO, FHWA, and other appropriate agencies and associations.
      • Complete a "home study course" with a complete set of the workshop workbook presentation and exercise material organized for the benefit of the state DOTs that did not participate in the workshops. This course can also serve as an additional vulnerability assessment reference for all the states.
      • Incorporate available references in the latest studies in vulnerability assessment
      • Include complete listing of all the comments collected in the workshops
      • Include discussion of key points from state DOTs needs and future issues regarding vulnerability assessment.
      • Include discussion of state DOT needs and future issues in reference to countermeasures, mitigation strategies, cost/benefit analysis, and security operation plans.

    Status: At the completion of the three designated workshops that were held in Texas, California, and New York during the first quarter of 2003, a total of 32 states and two Canadian provinces participated in the workshops. A draft self-instruction guide was submitted in February 2004. Published as NCHRP Report 525, Surface Transportation Security: Volume 4, A Self-Study Course on Terrorism-Related Risk Management of Highway Infrastructure.

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