This project was funded jointly by NSF and NCHRP-IDEA, this project developed a system for monitoring live load and verifying live load carrying capacity of highway bridges. The NSF part of the work focused on fundamental work on the development of the truck control system while the IDEA portion dealt with practical applications, field measurements, and integration of the system with the intelligent transportation system (ITS). The field testing program involved verifications of girder distribution factors (GDF), dynamic load factors (DLF), truck load effect on newly applied fiber sheets, and truck load carrying capacity. The individual components of the comprehensive testing program were verified on 17 bridges. The final, multi-objective tests were carried out on a selected structure in Florida. The load was applied in the form of fully loaded (up to the legal limit) trucks. The considered loading combinations include a single vehicle and two trucks side-by-side. The results of these and previous tests indicate that the girder distribution factors (GDF) specified by AASHTO for the spans from 10 to 30m are rather conservative. Dynamic load factors (DLF) were also measured for a single truck and two trucks side-by-side. It was observed that the dynamic load is not related to static load, and therefore DLF (defined as the ratio of dynamic load and static load) decreases for larger static load. Figure 1 shows a plot of DLF against static and dynamic strain recorded for heavy trucks. Deflections due to truck loads are also considerably lower than analytically predicted values. The field tests confirmed that the developed procedures are efficient and can be used as an alternative way to evaluate the adequacy of the bridge.
The control system for highway load effects has already been applied on selected bridges in collaboration with the state DOT’s in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida. The truck traffic control can save a considerable amount of money for bridge maintenance because of a more accurate site-specific evaluation. The final report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS # PB2004-102286).