Machine Design

Testing the Smart Bridge

The outside of this bridge is decorated with historical artwork and, New Mexico State University researchers incorporated cutting edge technology on the inside.

Julie Kalista
Online Editor

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.

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New Mexico State University

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