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DOT’s J. Sterling Jones Hydraulics Research Laboratory

Dept. of Transportation

Photo credit: Kornel Kerenyi, FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Hydraulics Laboratory conducts research related to the effects of flooding on highway infrastructure. A major impact of flooding is bridge scour, which is the leading cause of bridge failures in the U.S. Thousands of bridges are listed as “scour critical” in the National Bridge Inventory. Due to the numerous uncertainties associated with river soil beds, the FHWA’s scour design methods are conservative. Knowing the erodibility of in-situ soil is critical for bridge foundation design. The Laboratory uses mobile robotics to increase the erosion testing efficiency of soil samples and provide rapid test results for bridge foundation design.

The FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center is a federally owned and operated national research facility located in McLean, Virginia. The center houses more than 16 laboratories, support facilities, and data sets; and conducts applied and exploratory advanced research in vehicle-highway interaction, nanotechnology, and many other types of transportation research in safety, pavements, highway structures and bridges, human-centered systems, operations and intelligent transportation systems, and materials.

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