Bridge health monitoring is increasingly relevant for the maintenance of existing structures or new structures with innovative concepts that require validation of design predictions. In the United States there are more than 600,000 highway bridges. Nearly half of them (46.4%) are rated as fair while about 1 out of 13 (7.6%) is rated in poor condition. As such, the United States is one of those countries in which bridge health monitoring systems are installed in order to complement conventional periodic nondestructive inspections. This paper reviews the challenges associated with bridge health monitoring related to the detection of specific bridge characteristics that may be indicators of anomalous behavior. The methods used to detect loss of stiffness, time-dependent and temperature-dependent deformations, fatigue, corrosion, and scour are discussed. Owing to the extent of the existing scientific literature, this review focuses on systems installed in U.S. bridges over the last 20 years. These are all major factors that contribute to long-term degradation of bridges. Issues related to wireless sensor drifts are discussed as well. The scope of the paper is to help newcomers, practitioners, and researchers at navigating the many methodologies that have been proposed and developed in order to identify damage using data collected from sensors installed in real structures.
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