NDE of Steel Bridges: Fatigue Crack Detection and Monitoring

Steel bridges are subjected to cyclic loading during their service life. Fatigue cracks initiate in steel bridge components due to this cyclic pattern of loading. The detection and monitoring of these fatigue cracks is an important task for the bridge owner to evaluate bridge condition. This paper presents preliminary work on the application of NDE technologies to address both the crack detection and monitoring aspects on in-service steel bridge structures. NDE technologies have been developed and tailor made to meet the requirements of defence and aerospace sectors. Over the last several decades, many of these advanced sensing and monitoring technologies have been used for infrastructure applications. However, there is a need to understand the challenges and the differences in the dynamics and structural aspects in the civil infrastructure sector to use these advanced NDE technologies. The Steel Bridge Testing Program (SBTP) carried out by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is aimed at addressing these challenges in application of advanced NDE crack detection and monitoring technologies. This paper provides the details of this on-going research effort in the second phase of the SBTP program, carried out in the field on four bridges in the states of Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

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