Feasibility of Vibration-Based Long-Term Bridge Monitoring Using the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge


Karl Gaebler, Carol Shield, Lauren Linderman

January 2017

Report no. MnDOT 2017-01

Vibration based structural health monitoring has become more common in recent years as the required data acquisition and analysis systems become more affordable to deploy. It has been proposed that by monitoring changes in the dynamic signature of a structure, primarily the natural frequency, one can detect damage. This approach to damage detection is made difficult by the fact that environmental factors, such as temperature, have been shown to cause variation in the dynamic signature in a structure, effectively masking those changes due to damage. For future vibration based structural health monitoring systems to be effective, the relationship between environmental factors and natural frequency must be understood such that variation in the dynamic signature due to environmental noise can be removed. A monitoring system on the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN, has been collecting vibration and temperature data since the structures opening in 2008. This provides a uniquely large data set, in a climate that sees extreme variation in temperature, to test the relationship between the dynamic signature of a concrete structure and temperature. A system identification routine utilizing NExT-ERA/DC is proposed to effectively analyze this large data set, and the relationship between structural temperature and natural frequency is investigated.

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