Effective Bridge Maintenance is essential in order to ensure your bridge is safe, sound and secure. As large components of modern infrastructure, bridges are built to last – but not forever. Many of the bridges found around the country were
constructed decades ago, every day edging closer to the end of their intended lifespan. Even modern bridges are not immune to these issues. Constant use and exposure to a range of environmental factors mean that they too require regular maintenance. The secret to easy bridge maintenance is in being proactive rather than reactive. This requires us to look for ways to safely manage structural issues before serious damage occurs.
When it comes to vital structures such as these, we require techniques that will allow us to both mitigate the destructive forces acting on them as well as help preserve their integrity. Below, we take a look at some of the tools and techniques available in order to assess the structural damage and necessary reinforcements required in any situation.
This is a process by which a thermal camera creates an image of the bridge using radiation. The bridge itself will emit different levels of heat in different areas. This system will allow the infrared machine to construct a clear image of the entire structure. An innovative piece of technology, infrared thermography can easily locate voids, fluids and delamination’s (fracturing of the material into layers), allowing remediation experts to conduct the required repairs before any catastrophic failures.
The use of devices like magnetometers allow us to detect iron inside of the bridge. Magnetometers can be thought of as more-or-less large scale metal detectors. They work in a similar fashion, just much more powerful. These machines are capable of detecting metallic material through more than 10 feet of concrete, allowing us to locate reinforcement beams and dowel pins.
A pachometer can also be used when locating steel reinforcements. This more precise tool is able to give us a comprehensive understanding of the metallic reinforcement’s dimensions, with readings accurate to 0.1 inches.
As well as the structural assessments listed above, there are some more practical, hands-on steps that can be taken to maintain a bridge. Preventative maintenance ranges from steps as simple as making sure the bridge is regularly cleared of debris, to the installation of new reinforcement. Common maintenance procedures include:
Making Sure Drainways Are Cleared – Collected water and debris can build up on the surface of the bridge and result in a lot of wear. Making sure a bridge is clean of rubbish and that all drains are free-flowing is an essential part of effective bridge maintenance.