About the research
Beginning in approximately 2000, the Bridge Engineering Center at Iowa State University, through projects funded by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Iowa Highway Research Board, the Federal Highway Administration, and a transportation pooled fund (TPF) study, began the development of an autonomous structural health monitoring (SHM) system. The development of this system centered around the establishment of a monitoring system that could autonomously monitor and report on the condition of bridges. The first comprehensive SHM bridge project using continuous monitoring was on the US 30 Bridge over the Skunk River in Ames, Iowa in 2007.
It was specifically desired to have a system that could detect changes in structural performance due to damage, etc., allow for the determination of bridge load ratings, and help estimate remaining bridge service life. The system had already been demonstrated on one bridge on I-80 just west of Des Moines, Iowa and one bridge on I-280 just east of the Quad Cities near Milan, Illinois. Another system was scheduled to be installed on US 151 north of Dubuque, Iowa and Kieler, Wisconsin. Also, a portion of the system was installed as part of the reconstruction of the US 65 Bridge over the Iowa River in Iowa Falls, Iowa.
The initial purpose of this work was to further implement the developed SHM system on an additional I-80 bridge (over Cherry Creek) and to fully implement the system on the Iowa River Bridge.
Given the maturity and effectiveness of the developed SHM system validated over a significant time period in cooperation with the Iowa DOT and other states, the timing may be favorable for the Iowa DOT to consider implementing a permanent bridge SHM system program. If so, the most significant decisions for the Iowa DOT would include developing a comprehensive implementation process, including staffing.
Additional needs would require investment in hardware and software, as well as developing an overall effective process to utilize the SHM system.