New Portable Bridge Evaluation Toolkit: Structural Mechanics, Dynamics, and Vibrations

Principal Investigator: Charles (C.J.) Riley, Oregon Institute of Technology
Learn more about this education project by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The most expensive and critical links in our transportation network are its bridges. Historical and contemporary bridge failures have highlighted our reliance on these structures. While the nation’s bridge management system is robust and well administered, the tools needed to evaluate individual bridges to determine their condition—whether for asset management or in response to a significant loading event such as the imminent Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake in the Pacific Northwest— are currently highly specialized. 

NITC researcher C.J. Riley, a civil engineering professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology, has developed a cost-effective, accurate, and easily deployed evaluation tool using widely available mobile technology (specifically iPods) to measure the dynamic structural response of a bridge subjected to harmonic forcing. 

Riley's research team leveraged principles of structural mechanics, dynamics, and vibrations, as well as a significant body of literature, to conceive a system that could complement existing visual inspection methods to support bridge condition evaluation and rating. 

The outcome of the project is the Rapidly Deployable Structural Evaluation Toolkit for Global Observation, or RDSETGO. 

It consists of a portable electromechanical shaker that supplies a harmonic force to a structure, and a network of iPods to measure acceleration response, all contained in easily transportable plastic totes. The system has been determined to be robust, forgiving, accurate, and relatively easy to use. As a result of this work, the RDSETGO system is sufficiently developed to incorporate additional refinements, to support a more systematic study of bridge dynamic performance, and to be considered for regular deployment by bridge inspection personnel.

Riley will speak on May 16th at an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Bridge Design Training session to demonstrate the system and share the results of the work with ODOT employees. Our goal is to deploy these toolkits nationwide, starting with Oregon. For those curious to learn more about this work, Riley presented information about the first phase of the research in a NITC webinar in May 2017.

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), one of five U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation centers, is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. The NITC program is a Portland State-led partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and new partners University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington. We pursue our theme — improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities — through research, education and technology transfer.

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