Towards Road Safety: Real-Time Sensors To Be Rolled Out On National Highway Bridges

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jun 19, 2024, 03:46 PM | Updated 03:46 PM IST

Cable stayed bridge across River Chambal on Kota Bypass. (x)
Cable stayed bridge across River Chambal on Kota Bypass. (x)

In a significant move to bolster the safety and longevity of national highway bridges, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) has announced a new initiative to install real-time sensors on these vital structures.

This proactive measure aims to revolutionise the maintenance process and prevent potential bridge collapses, ensuring safer travel for commuters across the country.

The primary goal of installing these sensors is to enable continuous health monitoring of bridges. These advanced sensors will collect data on various parameters crucial for the structural integrity of bridges, including strain, deflection, vibration, tilt, displacement, temperature, corrosion and scour.

For major bridges, these sophisticated sensors will ensure that any potential issues are promptly identified and addressed.

Key Benefits

The introduction of real-time sensors will transform bridge maintenance by enabling preventive measures rather than reactive repairs. Continuous data collection allows for timely interventions, reducing the risk of catastrophic failures and extending the lifespan of bridges.

By incorporating real-time monitoring into maintenance protocols, the ministry aims to significantly enhance the safety standards of national highways. This proactive approach will help prevent traffic disruptions and ensure safer travel conditions for all road users, reports Economic Times.

With detailed project reports (DPRs) now accounting for health monitoring sensors, there is an opportunity to develop standardised tools for data analysis. This will enable consistent monitoring and maintenance practices across various types of bridges, ensuring uniform safety standards nationwide.

However, the implementation of this initiative presents several challenges. One significant hurdle is the lack of standardised analysis tools for monitoring different parameters across diverse bridge topologies.

The ministry has acknowledged this gap and is allowing contractors the flexibility to propose their own software tools, but developing a unified, standardised system remains a critical task. Integrating these advanced sensors into existing bridges, especially those in highly saline or polluted environments, poses a logistical challenge.

Ensuring that the sensors are accurately installed and maintained to provide reliable data will require meticulous planning and execution. Additionally, the vast amount of data generated by these sensors needs to be efficiently managed and analysed.

Establishing a robust data acquisition system and training personnel to interpret and act on this data is crucial for the success of this initiative.

As the system evolves, the integration of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning could further enhance predictive maintenance capabilities, ensuring that India's bridges remain safe and reliable for years to come.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.

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