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Bridge Monitoring Project Tests Impact of Heavy Trucks

November 22, 2010

Engineers Scott Bogard and Mark Gilbert drove UMTRI's instrumented tractor across the I-275 northbound bridge over Telegraph Road in Monroe County on November 15 in a series of tests measuring the effects of heavy trucks on bridges.

The tests are part of an infrastructure-monitoring project funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with support from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). The five-year project is led by Jerome Lynch, associate professor in the U-M Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Tim Gordon, research professor in the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering.

During the tests, sensors mounted directly on the UMTRI truck recorded data that were synchronized with data from sensors installed on the bridge (visible in the foreground) by the U-M Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The varying load and bridge response signals will allow accurate calculation of the loads, or overall force, introduced by the truck into the bridge structure. Measuring how vehicles, especially heavy trucks, affect bridges provides critical information that could help predict the structure's health and safe operational lifetime.

Pictured: UMTRI engineers Scott Bogard and Mark Gilbert drive UMTRI's instrumented tractor across the I-275 bridge over Telegraph Road in one of ten such tests performed on November 15. MDOT staff were on hand throughout the day to provide traffic control.

Photo by Dan Huddleson, UMTRI