Measurement and communication of bridge performance with remote sensing technologies

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The importance of a functional and efficient transportation network system is well known to the traveling public, but the financial and technical requirements to keep this infrastructure in a state of good repair often are not well understood. From the standpoint of functionality, a bottleneck typically can be traced to the condition of bridges, which continues to be a major challenge as funds shrink. Nearly 12% of the more than 600,000 bridges in the United States were categorized in 2010 as structurally deficient. Much of this deterioration relates directly not only to the lack of funding, staffing, and resources to maintain this infrastructure but also to the lack of tools for proper assessment of the degree of deterioration, which can be unaccounted for in the routine inspection process. The use of remote sensing to assess the condition of a bridge is a relatively new concept in the monitoring of structural health. For the typical bridge engineer, remote sensing can mean enhanced and safer inspection assessment without traffic disruption. No single technology can completely assess bridge performance. This paper details the applicability of a series of remote sensing technologies to assess and monitor bridge performance and to provide state and local engineers with a decision support system to prioritize critical maintenance and repair of the nation's bridges. Selected commercially available technologies are defined, and their relationships in the communication of bridge needs to bridge engineers and inspectors are discussed.

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© 2012 National Academy of Sciences Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.3141/2292-17

Publication Title

Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board