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While terrorist organizations have been active across the globe for decades, attacks against public surface transportation infrastructure have been a growing concern. As a result, significant research has been carried out in the area of bridge security over the past decade. Important advancements have been made in the areas of vulnerability assessment and risk-based prioritization methods, component-level blast load characterization, dynamic response analysis procedures, and blast threat mitigation techniques. Although much research is still needed, it is important to begin transferring these state-of-the-art protective design concepts and methodologies to the appropriate users within the bridge community. As such, an essential next step in enhancing the security of public highway bridges is to synthesize this newly developed protective design technology into an expedient and user-friendly engineering tool capable of facilitating effective anti-terrorist/force protection (ATFP) retrofits of current bridges, safe designs of new bridges, and emergency planning efforts. This tool would enable practicing bridge engineers to implement essential blast-resistant analysis and design strategies without having to rely on time-consuming, costly, and complex resources such as physical testing or high-fidelity computational modeling. This tool could also be taken into the field to aid in rapid threat assessments of existing highway bridges. The Anti-Terrorist Planner for Bridges (ATP-Bridge) software tool has been developed to specifically address these highway infrastructure security issues and, more generally, to help facilitate the implementation of research findings into current practice.

ATP-Bridge is a practical engineering-level software program capable of predicting the response and incurred damage of critical bridge components subjected to a variety of threat scenarios. ATP-Bridge features flexible software architecture designed to be continuously informed and updated with state-of-the-art research and intuitive, user-friendly functionality that aligns with practice. The software relies on fast-running computational algorithms that have been verified and validated against available experimental data. ATP-Bridge is intended to be utilized primarily by bridge engineers and vulnerability assessment personnel, but it can also be used by emergency responders and law enforcement professionals to help quantify the likelihood of a major transportation disruption as a result of a postulated malicious attack. This information can then be used to support emergency planning decisions such as critical resource allocation.

PEC engineers have supported the development of the ATP-Bridge software in collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin through testing, modeling and programming, under technical direction of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Design Center (ERDC) and sponsorship of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

ATP-Bridge is now available for download from the US Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center (https://pdc.usace.army.mil/software/atp4bridges).

For more information on the ATP-Bridge software or PEC’s bridge security capabilities, please feel free to get in touch with Eric Sammarco PhD, PE.

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