The I40-Bridge over the Rio Grande was part of the Highway “Interstate 40” in New Mexico. In the 1960’s and 1970’s over 2500 bridges were built in the U.S. with a design similar to this on Interstate 40. These bridges were built without structural redundancy and typically had only two plate girders carrying the loads. Failure of either girder was assumed to produce catastrophic failure of the bridge; hence these bridges were referred to as fracture-critical bridges. The US-Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have provided funds for evaluation and testing of the existing fracture critical bridges over the Rio Grande. The investigation was conducted by the structural dynamics group around Dr. C.R. Farrar of the Los Alamos National Laboratories.

After a modal analysis of the undamaged bridge, it has been damaged artificially in different states where all scenarios have been chosen to reproduce observed damage in the field. The test data has been made available for the scientific community and so the bridge tests could be used as benchmark for testing structural damage assessment methods at a full scale structure.

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