A New Method of Scour Inspection, Monitoring and Warning: FRA Case Study

Scour is the leading cause of bridge failure in the U.S. (Wardhana et al). This same study noted that incidents of major bridge damage have increased by a factor of four over the previous 10-year reporting period. A new cost effective method for scour inspection, scour monitoring and scour warning based on sensing bridge pier responses has been developed in conjunction with the Federal Railway Administration (FRA), HNTB, GREX, and two private railways (CP, BNSF). This new method uses a portable hybrid sensor system that measures pier responses to determine the soil support conditions of a pier. The method can be used as a portable inspection tool or it can be configured to be a real-time assessment and notification system. This new method significantly enhances the industry’s scour-damage detection capability and provides an operational foundation for assuring that High Speed Rail (HSR) trains do not traverse bridges that have scoured piers. The method combines comparative behavior analysis under live loads (train and high velocity water) as well as a unique recovery analysis. Case studies from the FRA project as well as from several highway bridge projects will be presented. Additionally, a preliminary return on investment analysis will be presented.

1. Wardhana, Kumalasari, & Hadipriono, Fabian C. “Analysis of Recent Bridge Failures in the United States” [Journal Paper]. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 17(3), 144-150, 2003. 2. Briaud, Hurlebaus, Chang, Yao, Sharma, Yu, Darby, Hunt, and Price. Realtime Monitoring Of Bridge Scour Using Remote Monitoring Technology, TTI, Report FHWA/TX-11/0-6060-1, 2011. 3. Karl Pearson, "Notes on regression and inheritance in the case of two parents," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 58 : 240–242, 1895. 4. Joy, Jones, Otter, and Maal. Characterization of Railroad Bridge Service Interruptions, TTCI, Report DOT/FRA/ORD-13/05, 2013.
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