Bridge Aerodynamics

Optimizing bridge performance and safety through comprehensive analyses, modeling and testing presented in simple, design-ready results

Cable-supported, arch-and-truss bridges are expressions of elegance and functionality. However, they tend to react dynamically to the wind. Gusting winds may buffet the bridge, causing it to move. In some cases, instability results from the bridge’s design. These interactions are highly complex. Left unaddressed, some responses could cause anything from discomfort in users to catastrophic failure of the structure. However, with the correct aerodynamic design, these bridges can become lasting landmarks.

Angus L. MacDonald Bridge model

Angus L. MacDonald Bridge

Our service

We help you arrive at a bridge design that is safe, optimized, cost-efficient, aerodynamically sound—and highly functional.

Our exceptional staff is uniquely qualified to help you understand—and adjust—how your structure will respond to the wind. We use state-of-the-art methodology, experimental and numerical tools to conduct the most accurate studies in the industry.

In wind tunnel studies at our facilities, we employ precise modeling and simulation techniques. These studies are designed to correctly capture the effects of geometric details and structural motion. Detailed models are then subjected to realistic atmospheric conditions. We use these tests to assess how the  structure would perform aerodynamically in any windstorm.

We distill the test results into critical stability conditions and simplified wind load cases that capture the essential behavior of this wind–bridge interaction. These load cases include specified wind pressures, distributed across the structure, that can be used directly for design. Our wind loads are unmatched in the industry for simplicity and accuracy. All solutions we develop to improve aerodynamic stability and user comfort are project-specific, simple and efficient.

We use advanced,custom modeling tools to quickly and efficiently evaluate design adjustments and address your project’s needs. We can also draw on the exceptionally deep resources of RWDI to incorporate environment-related issues into the wind analysis. These broader reviews might include making micro-local adjustments for wind direction, evaluating aerodynamic risks associated with ice accretion and identifying loads from accumulated snow and ice.