Bala Sivakumar, PE

Sivakumar is a nationally recognized expert in accelerated bridge design and construction and considered by colleagues and clients as a “go to” resource for bridge management, risk assessment and advanced monitoring of bridge structures.

He has led national bridge research projects on accelerated bridge design for the Transportation Research Board under the Strategic Highway Research Program, including two demonstration projects, the U.S. 6 Bridge over Keg Creek in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the rapid replacement of twin bridges on Interstate 84 in New York. In conjunction with that work, he authored the Strategic Highway Research Program Report S2-R04- RR-2: “Innovative Bridge Designs for Rapid Renewal: ABC Toolkit,” which includes national accelerated bridge construction design standards, design examples and construction specifications to guide public agencies on implementation.

He also has an in-depth understanding of load and resistance factor design and load and resistance factor rating, and he has conducted LRFD and LRFR courses, seminars and workshops for more than 35 DOTs. He was the architect of the LRFR evaluation philosophy and was the primary author of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials LRFR Manual and the 2008 AASHTO Manual for Bridge Evaluation. Most recently, he served as a technical consultant to AASHTO, maintaining and updating its MBE.

Additionally, Sivakumar served as a key member of the forensic investigation team for the I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis and the Hoan Bridge failure in Milwaukee.

Professional affiliations:
● American Society of Civil Engineers
● Transportation Research Board

30 seconds with Bala Sivakumar …

Q. What is involved with accelerated bridge construction?
A. “Traditionally, to replace a bridge, we would need to close that section of roadway for an extended period to allow for demolition, construction of a new superstructure, and installation of a new span. In ABC, we assemble pre-cast elements into a single span at the side of the existing bridge. While that is happening, the construction contractor builds a new superstructure underneath the existing bridge. People see what’s going on, but there’s no impact to them. The bridge is completed in days, not months or years.”

Q. How has accelerated bridge construction evolved?
A. “In the past six years, we’ve advanced ABC through research and demonstration projects. Now, my focus is advancing ABC by implementing it and expanding it to other areas, such as the rehabilitation of major bridges, difficult foundations and substructures, and innovative project delivery methods.”

Q. Do you see potential for accelerated bridge design and construction in the future?
A. “Partial or full road closures, necessary in bridge replacement today, present user costs that did not exist when that bridge was originally built on new alignment. Simply put, ABC applications have shorter construction durations and less cost to the public. For example, by using a lateral slide method to replace the twin bridges on I-84, we were able to reduce the structure’s out-of-service period from two construction seasons to two weekend nights, greatly reducing user costs.”

Awards and recognition:
● Engineering News-Record Top 25 Newsmakers of 2013
● 2012 HNTB Innovation Award

● Master of Science, structural engineering, Cornell University