Fiber-optic sensors in the bridge's concrete beams and deck monitor stresses and tell researchers how it is performing under load. The sensors send light beams through the structures that indicate stress within the bridge. Researchers conducted a series of baseline measurements as a heavy truck drove across the bridge at different speeds. Once the bridge is opened to traffic, data will be collected weekly.
The technology lets researchers test new building materials for bridges such as high-strength concrete. "Most data on how these materials perform under load come from lab tests, but NMSU technology lets us see how they perform in the field," says one researcher. Over the life of the bridge, data will show how the materials perform under long-term stress, improving preventative maintenance and extending the life of the bridge. This web-only article appears in the Mechanical monthly email newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, sign up today for our free email newsletters!
New Mexico State University