TRP Chair Spotlight: Mark Shaffer

Mark Shaffer serves as the Policy, Standards, and Final Plan Control Unit Chief in the Bureau of Bridges and Structures, Illinois Department of Transportation. He has assisted with several IDOT- sponsored research projects administered by the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT).

 Mark chaired the Technical Review Panels (TRP) for Projects R27-115, “Analysis of Superstructures of Integral Abutment Bridges,” and R27-070, “Seismic Performance of Quasi-Isolated Bridges in Illinois.” In the former study, two integral abutment bridges were instrumented with strain gauges to determine the superstructure stresses over a two-year period. The data collected was then used to create a design procedure to account for additional thermal and locked-in stresses in superstructures for integral abutment bridges.

Mark Shaffer

In the latter study, standard IDOT elastomeric bearings were tested to determine their isolation characteristics, and these bearings were then inserted into finite element bridge models to determine how they would affect a bridge during a seismic event.  The results of this project led to a change in bridge bearing details and a re-evaluation of the usage of specific types of bearings in high-seismic zones.

 Among the other research projects that Mark has assisted with are R27-140, “Effectiveness of Exterior Beam Rotation Prevention Systems for Bridge Deck Construction,” and R27-156, “Repair and Strengthening of Distressed/Damaged Ends of Prestressed Beams with FRP Composites,” which is still in progress. In addition, he assisted with the policy implementation of the results of projects R27-069, “Improved Design for Driven Piles on a Pile Load Test Program in Illinois,” and R27-55, “Thermal Behavior of IDOT Integral Abutment Bridges and Proposed Design Modifications.”

 Mark is also currently serving on the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Panels for Development of Guidelines for Performance-Based Seismic Design and Development of AASHTO Seismic Acceleration Maps. The goal of the first of these panels is to develop a method for designers to incorporate levels of performance into the seismic design of their bridges. “For example, a bridge could be designed to remain open for emergency traffic after an earthquake, with minor damaged areas to be repaired prior to opening the bridge to full traffic,” says Mark. The goal of the second of these panels is to update the seismic acceleration maps found in AASHTO to incorporate all of the recorded data since the last time they were updated in 2008.