Bridge deflection evaluation using strain and rotation measurements

  • Sousa, Helder (LABEST, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto) ;
  • Cavadas, Filipe (LABEST, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto) ;
  • Henriques, Abel (LABEST, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto) ;
  • Bento, Joao (Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Instituto Superior Tecnico) ;
  • Figueiras, Joaquim (LABEST, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto)
  • Received : 2011.10.03
  • Accepted : 2012.10.27
  • Published : 2013.04.25


Monitoring systems currently applied to concrete bridges include strain gauges, inclinometers, accelerometers and displacement transducers. In general, vertical displacements are one of the parameters that more often need to be assessed because their information reflects the overall response of the bridge span. However, the implementation of systems to continuously and directly observe vertical displacements is known to be difficult. On the other hand, strain gauges and inclinometers are easier to install, but their measurements provide no more than indirect information regarding the bridge deflection. In this context, taking advantage of the information collected through strain gauges and inclinometers, and the processing capabilities of current computers, a procedure to evaluate bridge girder deflections based on polynomial functions is presented. The procedure has been implemented in an existing software system - MENSUSMONITOR -, improving the flexibility in the data handling and enabling faster data processing by means of real time visualization capabilities. Benefiting from these features, a comprehensive analysis aiming at assessing the suitability of polynomial functions as an approximate solution for deflection curves, is presented. The effect of boundary conditions and the influence of the order of the polynomial functions on the accuracy of results are discussed. Some recommendations for further instrumentation plans are provided based on the results of the present analysis. This work is supported throughout by monitoring data collected from a laboratory beam model and two full-scale bridges.


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