How much traffic can this bridge safely take? A breakthrough in quantifying traffic loading on big bridges

“In effect, we are extending the working life of the bridge, without compromising the safety of the travelling public.”

In the eleventh installment of our researcher case studies series we look at Professor Eugene O'Brien of the UCD School of Civil Engineering.

Bridges are often key factors in transport, allowing us to get across landscapes efficiently. If a bridge fails, the results can be catastrophic for human life, for economies and societies and for the environment.
This is why bridges are monitored as they age, to estimate whether they can still safely bear expected traffic. But the processes that civil engineers use to do that on long-span bridges are limited. This could result in bridges being closed due to safety concerns.
Professor Eugene O’Brien and his team at UCD School of Civil Engineering have been using cameras to augment the data we can collect about traffic weights and patterns on long-span bridges.
They have developed a first-of-its-kind method to quantify the traffic loading on some of the world’s biggest bridges – structures with clear spans of up to 2 kilometres. This means that engineers can now provide a more realistic measurement of bridge safety, thereby protecting human lives. The UCD-developed method should also help to prevent the unnecessary closure of economically important bridges, thus saving money and reducing disruptions to economies and societies and to the environment.

You can find the full text of his case study here: How much traffic can this bridge safely take? A breakthrough in quantifying traffic loading on big bridges