The Sensored Memorial Bridge Pioneers Condition Monitoring
The Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine will soon become a benchmark for assessing the long-term condition of transportation infrastructure.
The “Living Bridge” project will create “a self-diagnosing, self-reporting smart infrastructure” through the installation of approximately 250 sensors on the two year old lift bridge that will continually monitor traffic, environment, and the structural condition of the bridge. These sensors will specifically collect data on such conditions as traffic, stress, vibration, wind speed, temperature, and humidity. The sensors will be powered by tidal energy through a turbine system installed at a bridge pier.
There are several innovations on the Memorial Bridge that will be monitored for possible future use on other transportation projects, including gusset-less truss connections, structural metalized steel coating, and vertical lift balance system. This bridge monitoring system will proactively assess and maintain bridge performance, and reduce long-term maintenance costs.
The innovative project that expands on a National Science Foundation project is a partnership between the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT), the Maine DOT, the University of New Hampshire and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It is being made possible by a $355,000 FHWA Accelerated Innovating Deployment (AID) award.
According to UNH Assistant Professor of Engineering Erin Bell, the Memorial Bridge will “have the capacity to sense its environment, communicate with people, and even “feed” itself with electric energy. We hope that the Living Bridge will become somewhat of a prototype for the estuarine bridge of the future.”