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UW’s Puckett, Barker Publish National Academies Report

December 22, 2014
Michael Barker and Jay Puckett

Two professors in the University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science played key roles in developing specifications for the design of highway sign, light and traffic signal structures across the nation.

The National Research Council of the National Academies released a report this month titled, “Development and Calibration of AASHTO LRFD Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals.” Professor Jay Puckett led the effort and was assisted by Professor Michael Barker. Both are in UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Their work led to the adoption of new national specifications for design that are based upon a probabilistic approach to the characterization of loads such as wind and structural strengths. The “load and resistance factor design” (LRFD) approach is new for these types of structures and will change U.S. engineering practice as prescribed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Worldwide, several countries also use these methods.

“Seldom does an engineer have an opportunity to lead work that directly affects engineering practice in such a direct manner,” Puckett says. “I am humbled by being selected as the principal investigator in 2010 and so pleased to see this work come to fruition in 2014. UW’s Michael Barker was integral in this effort and deserves a mountain of credit.”

The report guided the writing of the specifications for design which contain formulas, procedures and rules for structural design, fabrication, inspection and asset management. At approximately 400 pages, the new specifications are due out next year, following formal adoption by AASHTO’s 50 state bridge engineers in a June 2014 vote.

The specifications are used by transportation agencies and their consultants at federal, state and local levels.

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