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Virtual Symposium on Protection of Bridge Piers from Large Ship Impact


For registration to this symposium, please click on the link below.  Once you have registered, we will send you a confirmation email about your registration and Zoom Webinar link to join the symposium.  We have limited capacity for this symposium.  Hence, please register as soon as possible. 

Zoom Webinar Registration Link:

The Key Bridge in Baltimore stood for more than half a century until it collapsed when a massive ship it was never designed to withstand collided with it. Ship collision design provisions, established in 1991, well after the bridge was built, suggest that the chance of collision was extremely low, estimated to be around 1/100,000. This risk assessment, which ultimately proved to be overly optimistic, likely contributed to a false sense of security about the bridge’s vulnerability and may have impeded proactive measures to reinforce the structure. 

National ship collision provisions have been mostly unchanged since they were published about 35 years old. The guidelines were derived from 1970s experiments focused on protecting the reactors of nuclear-powered ships from collision by other ships. The studies utilized 1:10 scale models and were geared towards ship-to-ship impacts rather than ship-to-bridge collisions. In addition to these substantial limitations, the provisions also failed to consider the scale and impact force generated by modern, significantly larger freighters that are now in operation. Although the Key Bridge was not constructed in accordance with these later-established provisions, its collapse under conditions deemed extremely unlikely by these standards underscores the pressing need for a comprehensive reassessment and possible revision of these guidelines. This is urgently needed to support the extensive, ongoing national efforts dedicated to evaluating and mitigating the risks of vessel collisions with existing bridge infrastructure.

The objective is this virtual Symposium on August 7, 2024, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM eastern time is to highlight the current state of protection of piers / towers of long span bridges in navigational waters from large ship impacts and identify current needs and gaps through an interactive virtual workshop of researchers and practicing engineers.  

The symposium will be free to the public and will be delivered through Zoom Webinar.  While a detailed agenda will be announced a week prior to the workshop, a tentative list of presenters / speakers is outlined below.

Confirmed Speakers


Tentative Agenda 

(Timing of presentation to de decides based on feedback from speakers)


Welcome and Introduction:  

Dr. Anil K. Agrawal, Ph.D., P.E., Dist. M. (ASCE), Chair of the workshop and Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Bridge Engineering at the City College of New York.

Dr. Alexander Couzis, Dean of the Grove School of Engineering, The City College of New York. 

Dr. Camille Kamga, Director, SEMPACT University Transportation Research Center. 


Keynote Presentation: On the design of bridges against ship impacts

Dr. Preben Tendrup Pedersen, Professor Emeritus, Technical University of Denmark. 


Insights from Automatic Identification System (AIS) data on vessel collision risk to bridges

Dr. Theodore Zoli, National Bridge Chief Engineer, HNTB, New York, NY


Shipping, Bridges, and the Future. 

Dr. Salvatore Mercogliano, Chair, Associate Professor of History, Chair, Campbell University, NC  


Ship Impacts on Bridges: Computational Modeling and Simulations.  

Dr. Sherif El-Tawil (University of Michigan) 

Dr. Anil K. Agrawal (The City College of New York)

Dr. Qian Chen (The City College of New York)

Dr. Hongfan Wang (The City College of New York)


Advances in the design of bridges to resist vessel impacts: from static to dynamic approaches. 

Dr. Gary Consolazio, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 


Risk Analysis of Ship Collision with Bridges

Michael Knott, Senior Vice President Emeritus and 

Mikele Winters, Senior Structural Engineer, Moffatt & Nichol.  


Quantitative assessment and mitigation of navigation risk for critical infrastructure: A Port Hedland case study. 

David Taylor, Principal, Baird & Associates.


Hunan Provincial design standard for evaluation and improvement of vessel-impact-resistant performance of existing bridges

Dr. Wei Fan, Professor, Department of Bridge Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha, China.  


Panel Discussion and Q&A Session: Dr. Sreenivas Alampalli, Stantec. 

US DOT Future of Transportation Summit
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The Inaugural US DOT Future of Transportation Summit is a premier event aimed at charting the vision and exploring new frontiers in transportation. This summit will showcase the transformative impacts of the Fast Act and BIL University Transportation Centers (UTCs) across various transportation sectors.

Key Focus Areas:

  • Improving the Mobility of Goods and People, and Reducing Congestion
  • Promoting Safety
  • Reducing Cybersecurity Risks
  • Preserving the Environment
  • Improving the Durability and Extending the Life of Transportation Infrastructure


Summit Content: The summit will feature cutting-edge transformative activities, addressing:

  • Current and future transportation projects
  • Gaps, challenges, and opportunities in transportation
  • Intermodal and multi-modal transportation solutions


Steering Committee and Themes:

  • Dr. Chandra Bhat, University of Texas at Austin: Improving Mobility of People & Goods
  • Dr. Mashrur “Ronnie” Chowdhury, Clemson University: Reducing Transportation Cybersecurity Risks
  • Dr. Susan Handy, University of California, Davis: Preserving the Environment
  • Dr. Henry Liu, Center for Connected and Automated Transportation
  • Dr. Judy Perkins, Prairie View A&M University: Improving Life of Transportation Infrastructure
  • Dr. Raj Rajkumar, Carnegie Mellon University: Promoting Safety


For more detailed information, visit the official Summit website.