In a recent study (1) on transportation infrastructure, the results are very disturbing. It states that 83% of the
United States transportation infrastructure in not capable of meeting the needs of the next 10 years. While
other countries have been more aggressive in infrastructure development and monitoring, the United States
is lagging behind.
There are a broad range of infrastructure sensing applications in transportation that are not being met.
Many of these vital assets are aging or not adequately monitored with the potential for catastrophic failure.
As examples, the bridge failure in Minneapolis, Minnesota was due to a structural failure. Fire safety
problems, with recent life-loss fires, in road tunnels are challenging due to specific features of their
infrastructure, nature of traffic using them and insufficient safety rules on vehicles. As a result, road tunnel
fire safety issues are a concern.
NIST has recognized the need and is funding innovative research for the development of infrastructure
monitoring and inspection technologies. Specifically, NIST through its Technology Innovation Program
(TIP) will fund the development of a network of distributed, integrated sensor architectures that will
monitor bridges, roadways, tunnels, dams and other critical infrastructure applications (2) Many of these
applications can be facilitated by using fiber optic sensors.
This paper will specifically address monitoring bridges and tunnels using distributed fiber optic sensors to
monitor strain, vibration, temperature and the associated benefits.