New York to test bridge monitoring system

New York is taking new steps to monitor the safety of its bridges, a subject that gained wide attention after the collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis this summer.

New York's Transportation Department is working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NSERDA) to test a research project that will use a network of wireless sensors to check the soundness of the state's bridges, many of which were built decades ago.

The principal investigator for the project is Kerop Janoyan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

Janoyan and his team have developed sensors that can transmit information about vibrations on a bridge when vehicles drive on it.

The system is using a dense network of wireless arrays. The wireless sensor nodes can use accelerometers ' devices that measure specific external forces ' and strain gauges in addition to ultrasound and other types of sensors, said Colleen Ryan, a spokeswoman in the NSERDA communications office.

The battery-powered wireless nodes are polled by a master computer that aggregates sensor data and determines whether to alert inspectors. The systems will use a combination of commercial and proprietary software that was developed in-house, Ryan said.

Clarkson University is working with TransTech Systems to develop a commercial version of the system next year.

The research project will start by outfitting two bridges in New York state with the sensors, Ryan said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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