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Using Structural Monitoring in the Evaluation of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge


The A. Murray MacKay Bridge is a landmark bridge structure in Halifax Harbour and a vital transportation link between Halifax and Dartmouth for both passenger vehicles and heavy traffic. The bridge, which includes a central suspension bridge structure and two approach structures, was opened to traffic in 1970. Halifax Harbour Bridges conducts a regular evaluation of the condition and safety of its bridge structures. Buckland & Taylor Ltd was contracted to conduct one such load evaluation on the main suspension elements of the MacKay Bridge in accordance with the provisions of the most recent version of the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code and current traffic demands. This evaluation included the development of a three-dimensional finite element model of the bridge and its response to truck live loads. To supplement this theoretical work, a joint team of Remote Access Technology Limited and the Centre for Innovation in Infrastructure at Dalhousie University has installed a structural monitoring system on key elements of the stiffening trusses of the bridge. The structural monitoring data is being used to calibrate the theoretical model and develop better peak stress estimates based on in-situ response to random daily traffic loads. The paper demonstrates how advances in engineering tools allow us to collect more actual data on in-situ conditions and behaviour. Rigorous analysis and structural monitoring can be effectively integrated into the bridge management process. Better insitu condition assessments will lead to decisions that can be made based on knowledge and not on uncertainty. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
John Newhook
Joshua Levy
Peter Buckland
Jon Eppell