The state of the practice of bridge inspection and bridge management in the United States is briefly discussed. This practice has many limitations. The most significant limitation is that the data collected is based solely upon visual inspection, augmented with limited mechanical methods such as hammer sounding or prying. Visual inspection is highly variable, subjective and inherently unable to detect invisible deterioration, damage or distress. There are many types of damage and deterioration that need to be detected and measured that are beyond the capabilities of visual inspection. Bridge performance also needs to be measured. The FHWA and many others have conducted research and development in technologies that can help meet these needs. Several examples illustrating the application of this technology for the long term monitoring of bridges are described. While the summary is not comprehensive it demonstrates that technology exists to meet the needs identified. Future directions and further application of bridge monitoring technology are also briefly discussed.
Steven B. Chase, Steven B. Chase,
"A long-term bridge performance monitoring program", Proc. SPIE 5395, Nondestructive Detection and Measurement for Homeland Security II, (14 July 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.558433; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.558433