Timber Bridge Program, Bridge Engineering Center at Iowa State University
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Since the mid 1980s, Iowa State University has had an active timber bridge program which has included research, college courses, and extension activities.

Membership in CAWS

In 2003 the Bridge Engineering Center and Iowa State University joined the Coalition for Advanced Wood Structures (CAWS), a coalition of universities, industry, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory. This partnership will facilitate research that advances the use of timber products. The Bridge Engineering Center is the coalition's leader on the use of timber in transportation.


Iowa State University's Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) offers an undergraduate/graduate timber design course. Timber bridge design has also been taught as one component of the undergraduate/graduate structural engineering capstone design course. In addition, a three-credit independent study course that focuses on timber bridge design has been regularly offered in the summer during the past five years.


The CCEE Department has a long history of civil engineering extension for engineering practitioners in the transportation area. The BEC staff have participated in extension bridge engineering workshops in the past that have also included timber bridge design and rating modules. Several research projects that focused on timber bridge alternatives for bridge replacement have produced design manual information and software.

Timber Bridge Research Program

The BEC has been involved in timber bridge research since the 1980s. The research has included the development of timber bridge specifications for the AASHTO Design Specifications as well as considerable field testing and evaluation of both highway and railroad bridges. The staff also contributed to the development of timber bridge technical publications and technical presentations that have resulted from the research. Links to project summaries are provided below (with most recent listed first):

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2711 S. Loop Drive, Suite 4700, Ames, Iowa 50010-8664
Phone: 515-294-9501 ~ Fax: 515-294-0467
The Bridge Engineering Center is administered by Iowa State University's Institute for Transportation.

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