Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge

Spring 2021

The Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge, planned for completion in summer 2021, will connect Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory with the newly constructed addition to the Hydrosystems Laboratory.

The bridge will be a showcase for sustainable energy and environmental design options, a living laboratory featuring the latest innovations in structural health monitoring, and an instructional tool to teach about the effects of dynamic forces on the built environment. Data from all the sensors will be collected, stored for future reference, and graphically displayed on the bridge for viewing by visitors.

Smart bridge connecting Newmark Lab and the Hydrosystems Lab


Plans for Instrumentation of the Bridge

A dense array of high-fidelity accelerometer sensors will provide a full set of data from which accurate vibration motions can be computed and linked to weather, pedestrian traffic, or other structural stimuli. Vibration records can be used to estimate the structural properties and improve analysis models of the bridge.

Two displacement sensors will be installed – one each on the north and south expansion joints of the bridge – to monitor the movement of the bridge. It is normal for structures to expand or shrink in response to temperature variations.

A weather station will measure wind speed, wind direction, temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity. The environmental data can be used alone or combined with other data to analyze and predict the condition of the bridge.

The bridge deck will feature 2,219 square feet of usable space. A mixture of lounge seating and tables will be situated throughout the bridge, and glass walls on both sides will offer unique views of the engineering quad to the west and the campus to the east. The bridge will also feature an upright piano, donated by CEE professor and interim head Albert J. Valocchi and his wife, Anne Silvis.

The construction of the bridge represents the realization of a more than 50-year-old plan to connect Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory and the Hydrosystems Laboratory, both completed in the 1960s. The original plans for the buildings included a connecting bridge, which was not constructed due to a lack of funding.

The Kavita and Lalit Bahl Smart Bridge was made possible by a generous gift from the Bahls, long-time supporters to the university and friends of the department. Additional donors have sponsored seating areas in the bridge, named for past and present faculty members.