Utilization of Remote Sensing Data for Bridge Condition in Operational Decision Support

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), more than 26% of the nation’s bridges in 2009 were classified as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The ASCE estimated that the total investment needed to bring the nation’s bridge infrastructure up to code over the next 5 years was $930 billion, but in that time only $549.5 billion would be spent[1]. In 2011, structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges still made up close to 24% of the nation's total bridge infrastructure[2]. A report by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicates that, given more time and funding to complete bridge inspections, the use of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods would increase among state and county transportation agencies[3]. The advent of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) has created the potential to integrate transportation infrastructure with information technology systems such as Pontis; to “merge the transportation and information superhighways[4].” Yet, the standard evaluations used by the FHWA have been limited to auditory tests and visual inspection since the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) was first conducted almost 40 years ago[5]. Bridge inspection officials have indicated that the best way to improve the performance of bridge inspections is to allow for electronic data to be uploaded directly to a bridge management system; many have also cited the establishment of such a system as a major accomplishment for their team[3]. Can remote sensing technologies enhance structural health monitoring (SHM) in an operational context, helping to provide state and local engineers with additional information that can be used to prioritize critical maintenance and repair of the nation’s bridges? Remote sensing technologies are defined as those that collect information at a distance from the feature being measured or assessed. Integration of these technologies into the bridge inspection industry can benefit the management of bridge assets. A decision support system (DSS) has been developed to assist bridge management teams in prioritizing needs by combining information from available inventory and inspection data with new inspection technologies, making the task of communicating decisions simpler as decisions are based on sound, quantifiable measures rather than mostly on subjective visual inspections.

1. ASCE, A.S.o.C.E. Bridges | report card for America’s infrastructure. 2009 [cited 2010 February 22, 2010]; Available from: www.infrastructurereportcard.org/fact-sheet/bridges. 2. FHWA. Deficient Bridges by State and Highway System. 2011 [cited 2012 May 25, 2012]; Available from: www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/nbi/defbr11.cfm. 3. USDOT, Highway Bridge Inspection: State-of-the-Practice Survey, T.-F.H.R. Center, Editor.,U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration: Mclean, VA. 2001 4. Aktan, A.E., F.N. Catbas, K.A. Grimmelsman and C.J. Tsikos, “Issues in infrastructure health monitoring for management,” Journal of Engineering Mechanics. 126(7111): p. 14. ASCE, Reston, VA. 2000 5. Chong, K.P., N.J. Carino and G. Washer, “Health monitoring of civil infrastructures,” Smart Materials and Structures. 12(3): p. 483. 2003 6. Washer, G., Long-term remote sensing system for bridge piers and abutments, Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA), T.R. Board, ed.. 2010. 7. Vaghefi, K., R.C. Oats, D.K. Harris, T.M. Ahlborn, C.N. Brooks, K.A. Endsley, C. Roussi, R. Shuchman, J.W. Burns and R. Dobson. “Evaluation of commercially available remote sensors for highway bridge condition assessment,” Journal of Bridge Engineering. 1 (202), ASCE, Reston, VA. 2011 8. Brooks, C., D. Schaub, B. Thelen, R. Shuchman, R. Powell, D.E. Keefauver and G. Leonard, TARUT pilot studies technical details report, Deliverable 5.3-B, Michigan Tech Research Institute. 2007 9. Chen, S.-E., C. Rice, C. Boyle and E. Hauser, "Small-format aerial photography for highway-bridge monitoring,” Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 2011. 25(2), ASCE, Reston, VA. 10. FHWA. More about Pontis – Bridge Management – Asset Management – FHWA. Asset Management 2011 April 7, 2011 [cited 2012 January 31, 2012]; Available from: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/asstmgmt/ pontmore.cfm.
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