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Using Infrastructure Health Monitoring (IHM) to Assess the Impact of Climate Change on Civil Infrastructure


Climate change is creating a trend toward warming temperatures. As a result, temperate regions that currently experience freeze thaw cycles may experience fewer cycles in the future and regions currently experiencing deep seasonal or even permafrost conditions may expect thawing when previously they did not. These types of regions dominate Canada. Since the performance of transportation infrastructure is impacted by both traffic loading and environmental factors, these factors must be considered in planning and design of capital and maintenance programs. Further, accurately monitoring asset performance in response to these factors enables more effective asset management. The use of IHM (Infrastructure Health Monitoring) systems can assist owners in monitoring and managing the specific climatic impacts on transportation assets and can aid in developing asset management and maintenance strategies accordingly. Armed with real time and historic data on climate trends and related asset performance in a region, owners can prepare for the climate changes expected to come. IHM, including structural health monitoring “IHM” for bridges and structures, is a mature concept and technologies such as those used in IHM have been in existence for decades. These systems have been developed to include a wide variety of features specific to the needs of the owner. They can remotely monitor and report in-situ stresses, strains, vehicle loads, vehicle dimensions, surface and air temperatures and other data. A number of IHM systems have been designed for structures in Manitoba dating back to the late 1990’s. Wardrop Engineering Inc. was involved in a number of these and was recently engaged by the Manitoba Floodway Authority (MFA) to design and implement a 46 sensor IHM system for the new floodway crossing on the TransCanada Highway (TCH1E) east of Winnipeg. The IHM system for the TCH1E bridge aims to provide continuous feedback for the structural performance of the bridge. This will assist Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation with its overall bridge management/maintenance plan as it assumes ownership of the assets from MFA. Sensors were installed on the bridge girders and deck. The sensors will measure strain, vibration characteristics, deformation and temperature data. The data are stored on dedicated server and can be accessed through a web page currently hosted by Wardrop ( This paper introduces the merits of IHM systems, their applicability to monitoring impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure and discusses the recent MFA IHM case study in Manitoba. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Sam Sidawi
Dr. Emile Shehata
Construction, Maintenance and operations