University of Vermont

VPR featured Dr. Hernandez on VT Bridges Damaged by Irene

Eric HernandezJane Lindholm from Vermont Public Radio (VPR) interviewed Dr. Eric Hernandez from the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) for their program titled, “Designing and Building Bridges to Last” that aired on October 5, 2011.

“Foundation scour is one of the main causes of bridge failures, and in the recent case of the bridge failures in Vermont during tropical storm Irene this phenomena played a major role” says Hernandez. “Most bridges are visually inspected and repairs are made depending on the outcomes of such inspections; however it is not always possible to detect weak bridge foundations using visual inspection, mainly because they are not easily accessible. In addition, many of these structures were built using steel reinforced concrete and although reinforced concrete is a safe, versatile and economic material for bridge construction, uncoated reinforcing steel rebars can corrode with time; and in cold regions such as Vermont, permeation of deicing salts mixed with water is one of the major contributors to corrosion. Modern reinforced concrete bridges are built with coated steel rebars which significantly enhances durability,” Hernandez remarked. “Once a severely weaken structure is affected by an extreme event, such as Irene, the probability of survival are usually low.”

Hernandez emphasized “My research in structural health monitoring aims at detecting these hidden weaknesses in structures by examining vibrations induced by operational loads. If such weaknesses are detected and repaired with enough time prior to an extreme event, catastrophic bridge failures could be prevented.”

Dr. Hernandez is an Assistant Professor in the civil engineering program and received his PhD in civil engineering as a Fulbright scholar in 2007 from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. 

His research focuses on vibration based structural health monitoring and diagnosis of civil infrastructure systems, structural safety and reliability analysis, structural dynamics, earthquake engineering and optimal state and parameter estimation in second order systems.

To listen to VPR interview visit:

For more information on Hernandez’ research visit:

Contact information:
Eric Hernandez
Votey 359
Phone 656-3334