Bridge Health Monitoring- A Survey of Methods

Principal Investigator:

Arturo Schultz, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

A significant investment has been made in the US and other countries to develop and implement bridge monitoring and inspection technologies. In Minnesota, projects funded by Mn/DOT on the remote monitoring of bridges and structures have focused on measurement of distortional fatigue, wind-induced vibrations, long-term performance of bridges and soil pressures on retaining walls. However, no effort has been undertaken to develop criteria for the selection of appropriate technologies for bridge monitoring and inspection programs. This lack of evaluation criteria currently makes it difficult for bridge owners to select appropriate products for their bridge management and inspection programs. This project sought to formulate such criteria in an evaluation program that enabled bridge owners to make informed decisions regarding the adoption of these technologies. Evaluation of current bridge monitoring and inspection technologies provided Mn/DOT with recommendations regarding the adoption of those products that are likely to improve current bridge management and inspection practices. The authors developed a questionnaire to send to commercial companies offering monitoring systems. Of the 72 questionnaires sent, 38 companies responded and are included in this report. From information provided with these questionnaires, available commercial systems were briefly summarized. Criteria for system evaluation were then developed to help the bridge owner narrow down company choices for bridge application; once an owner answers a set of questions pertaining to a particular bridge, a program developed in Microsoft Excel helps the bridge owner decide the best system for a particular situation. Once company choice is narrowed down, additional criteria aids in final product choice. This report also defines terminology related to bridge health monitoring and provides a general glossary of available monitoring systems. The glossary is meant to help readers make an informed decision by understanding how different systems function and their strengths and weakness.

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