Bridge condition assessment and load rating using dynamic response.
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Bridge condition assessment and load rating using dynamic response.

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  • Abstract:
    This report describes a method for the overall condition assessment and load rating of prestressed box beam

    (PSBB) bridges based on their dynamic response collected through wireless sensor networks (WSNs). Due to a

    large inventory of deficient and aging bridges in the United States, the health monitoring of bridges can be very

    expensive; therefore, new tools for quick, efficient and response-based condition assessment and load rating of

    bridges will be helpful. The hypothesis is based on the assumption that the health of a bridge is associated with

    its vibration signatures under vehicular loads. Two WSNs were deployed on a 25-year old PSBB bridge under

    trucks with variable loads and speeds, and its dynamic response was collected at the current condition. The

    acceleration response of the bridge at its newest condition was collected from dynamic simulations of its full-scale finite element analysis (FEA) models mimicking field conditions. The FEA bridge model was validated by

    the field testing and numerical analysis. The acceleration data in time domain were transformed into frequency

    domain using Fast Fourier Transform to determine peak amplitudes and corresponding fundamental

    frequencies for the newest and current conditions. The analyses and comparisons of the bridge dynamic

    response between the newest and the current bridge interestingly indicate a 37% reduction in its fundamental

    frequency over 25 years of service life. This frequency reduction is linked to the reduction in condition rating of

    the current bridge. The analysis data, bridge structural dynamics and bridge geometric parameters have been

    used to calculate the in-service stiffness of the bridge to estimate its load bearing capacity. Using the results

    and algorithms from this research, application software is developed to instantly estimate the overall condition

    rating and load bearing capacity of a PSBB bridge under vehicular loads. The research outcome and the

    software will help in performing quick and cost-effective condition assessment and load rating of PSBB bridges,

    and may provide a better ability to plan replacements and develop load ratings.

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