Bridges and Commerce in Rural America

This weekend we had a story on degrading bridges causing problems with soybean truck shipments.  As infrastructure funding has decreased nationwide across the US, bridges of all types, especially rural bridges on country roads are rerouting trucks hauling soybeans (and can also apply to any other regional crops, corn, sugar beets, wheat, canola, sunflowers, etc…).  Normally weight limits are only a concern after the ground defrosts in the spring, this is a year-round problem.

Some bridges have been deficient for a while and the budgets are not there for immediate or even short term replacement.  Only a massive nationwide re-investment will catch up on the replacement work.

Besides traditional bridge deflection methods, and ground vehicle based LiDAR, bridge condition surveying of cracks can be done with low flying UAVs.  I came across a company called Smartsensys that can fly about 60ft above the bridge and use cameras to detect cracks down to 100 microns.

Also in my last post I mentioned using Hexagon Geospatial’s AutoDTM product to get LiDAR points from Orthophoto imagery, this combination should also work in this application, to get bridge LiDAR data from each farmer with a UAV in a regional network to scan the troubled bridges on a regular basis.  The additional data can be added to other bridge deterioration surveys.    For more information on AutoDTM, contact brandon.tourtelotte@hexagongeospatial.com

On the Meteorology side, in northern states snow plows are being fitted with data sensors to manage road conditions and manage salt and other saline solutions to clear the roads, this along with detailed temperature and humidity modeling can also estimate corrosion rates in the future, a key application rate can be found to minimize corrosion and maximize road friction for public safety while driving.

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About Chuck Schoeneberger

Former forecaster at Meridian Environmental Technologies Inc (now a Interis Company), with a background in GIS and LiDAR, with other stints at GeoSpatial Services of Winona, MN and Aerometric (Now Quantum Spatial) of Sheboygan, WI. He is a weather technologist for public storm safety from a local to international level. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=25048141&trk=tab_pro His views are his own and not of his employer.
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