Structures Design

Structures Research Center

The Structures Research Center (SRC) is composed of a team of engineers and technicians who collaborate to accomplish the SRC mission and goals. The mission of the SRC is to provide research, testing, and evaluations of innovative structural components and bridge systems. Along with testing existing inventory to provide for safe, reliable, and cost efficient structures across the State's highway system.

The SRC conducts internal research projects starting from a concept all the way to completion of the final report. Typically, a research project includes the following: literature review, analysis of the problem, designing research plans, fabrication of the specimen(s), designing the test setup, preparing and installing instrumentation. Then testing, collecting, and analyzing data, and preparation of the conclusions and final report. The SRC also manages/coordinates external research projects contracted to universities throughout Florida. For the external projects the SRC not only helps guide them toward the desired needs, but also assists in the testing. Which includes fabrication of the specimen(s) and test setup(s), instrumentation, testing, and data collection. (Majority of the testing completed at the SRC is for external projects.)

The SRC performs testing and evaluations for the Product Evaluations Group on new products that are being recommended for use in FDOT projects

The SRC carries out bridge load tests to assess the safe load carrying capacity of selected Florida bridges. The bridge tests typically start with a review of the available data such as bridge plans, prior load ratings, and inspection reports. The overall work includes analyzing the bridge structure, designing the instrumentation and testing plans, and performing the bridge test and data collection. The SRC engineers analyze the bridge test data and assign a load rating.

SRC also assists the Structures Design Office along with other offices within FDOT by providing technical expertise.

Structures Standard Plans

The Standard Plans Group is responsible for the development and maintenance of structures related Standard Plans. This group supports, maintains, and advances expertise in the structural design of bridges and miscellaneous structures.

Group's primary functions are:

  • Development of new structures related Standard Plans for common components and systems
  • Maintenance of existing structures related Standard Plans
  • Development and maintenance of the Standard Plans Instructions for structures related Standard Plans

Plans Review

The Plans Review Group consists of Area Structures Engineers. Each is assigned to specific districts that work directly with the District Structures Design Engineers to support the Department' s Five-Year Work Program. The Plans Review Group strives to determine the best possible bridge solution during the bridge development phase of every project and continually strives to improve structural plan quality. This group ensures that Category 2 bridge plans generated by consultants are in general compliance with the Department' s policies and procedures. The group also ensures that District Structures Offices are following Department policies and procedures on Category 1 projects. This group also provides technical assistance to the District Structures and Construction Offices as necessary.

This group coordinates all Category 2 bridge plan review efforts with other technical experts within the Structures Design Office and with the State Drainage Office. Areas of review include Structural, Geotechnical, Biddability and Constructability. This group also coordinates the reviews for Electrical, Mechanical and Hydraulic. Reviews are performed for all Category 2 bridge plans at all stages of development as outlined in the Florida Design Manual.

Other functions of the Plans Review Group include the following:

  • Provide assistance to State Construction Office to resolve structural issues occurring during construction and to propose changes to specifications, policies, design and detailing based on project feedback.
  • Process all structures related variations and exceptions.
  • Review all LAP and Permit projects containing major structures.
  • Prequalify engineering firms and specialty engineers.
  • Provide input to the Structures Manual based on customer feedback and new technology.
  • Review design criteria requirements for design-build and 3P projects that contain Category 2 bridges.
  • Review Technical Proposals on design-build and 3-P projects involving Category 2 bridges during project procurement.


The Geotechnical Engineers establish and implement FDOT' s geotechnical policies & procedures regarding the design and construction of structural foundation systems, walls and reinforced soil applications. They coordinate with the Area Structures Engineers to ensure Category 2 bridge plans generated by consultants are in general compliance with the Department's policies and procedures. They ensure all deviations from normal FDOT geotechnical policies and procedures are only in the best interest of the Department, they assist the District Structures Offices in properly developing Category 1 projects, and support the District Materials, Structures and Construction Offices as requested. The Geotechnical Engineers manage ongoing geotechnical research projects and assist with the review of research projects managed by the Materials, Construction and Drainage Offices.

Specific functions of the Geotechnical Engineers include the following:

  • Review geotechnical reports and design plans for Category 2 bridges.

Special Projects

The Special Projects Group is a group of engineers who support the Structures Design Office' s mission through special project assignments. Project assignments are at the discretion of the State Structures Design Engineer. Projects consist of a wide range of assignments including publication of the Structures Manual, implementation of new structural products or systems through testing, trial projects and specification development. Also, the group performs joint venture projects with the districts for the design of new or rehabilitated bridges. In addition, the group supports the district work program by jointly solving problems associated with bridge design and bridge construction.

Projects assigned to the Special Projects Group are enumerated below:

  • Bridge design - It is the group' s goal to have at least one structure in design at all times. The group typically works together with the District Structures Office and Roadway Design personnel. The Central Office Design staff serves as a resource for the Districts, performing designs of entire bridges. Group members will perform all elements of a bridge design: Slabs, beams and girders, bearings, piers, and foundations. The design team will develop sketches and work with Engineering Technicians to produce and review the Contract Drawings for the bridge designs.
  • FDOT Engineers are involved in a number of AASHTO Technical committees. In the process of refining the AASHTO Design Specifications and various Guide Specifications, the committee members must have a thorough understanding of the ramifications of the proposed changes to the national specifications. The members support the AASHTO Technical Committee by investigating proposed changes and making recommendations to the committee. Investigations typically consist of computer analyses of structures for parametric studies to determine how FDOT policy will be affected by proposed specification changes.
  • Maintain and publish the Structures Manual which includes:

Volume 1 - The Structures Design Guidelines, (SDG) Incorporate technical design criteria and includes additions, deletions, or modifications to the requirements of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications (LRFD). The SDG provides engineering standards, criteria, and guidelines for developing and designing bridges and retaining walls. Which the Structures Design Office (SDO) and District Structures Design Offices (DSDO) have overall responsibility.

Volume 2 - The Structures Detailing Manual (SDM) provides guidance for drafting and detailing criteria. Also the methods used in preparing Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contract plans for structural elements or systems. These elements or systems include bridges, overhead sign structures, earth retaining structures and miscellaneous highway structures. The SDM includes preferred details and examples of general component plan sheets.

Volume 3 - FDOT Modifications to the LFRD Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires and Traffic Signals (LRFDLTS-1).

Volume 4 - Fiber Reinforced Polymer Guidelines

  • Coordinate structures-related requirements in other FDOT Manuals, procedures, etc.
  • Maintain the FDOT Approved Post Tensioning Systems List.
  • Develop new and coordinate revisions of existing structures-related specifications.

Computer Applications

The Computer Applications Group manages the development and maintenance of structural software which reduces the Department' s design costs by automating and standardizing the design of common structural components. Activities include:

  • Computer Software Development for design and analysis software for bridges and other structures used on Florida' s Transportation System.
  • Developing and maintaining FDOT Standard Plans related to FDOT structural software.
  • Management and licensing for statewide 3rd party structural programs.