A decision support system for scour management of road and railway bridges based on Bayesian networks

Maroni, Andrea and Tubaldi, Enrico and Val, Dimitri and McDonald, Hazel and Lothian, Stewart and Riches, Oliver and Zonta, Daniele (2019) A decision support system for scour management of road and railway bridges based on Bayesian networks. In: The 12th International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring, 2019-09-10 - 2019-09-12, University of Stanford.

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Flood-induced scour is the excavation of material around bridge foundations due to the erosive action of flowing water and it is by far the leading cause of bridge failures worldwide. In the United States, scour is the cause of 22 bridges fail every year whereas in the UK, it contributed significantly to the 138 collapses of bridges in the last century. Monitoring an entire infrastructure network against scour is not economically feasible. A way to overcome this limitation is to install scour monitoring systems (SMSs) at critical bridge locations, and then extend information gained to the entire asset through a probabilistic approach. In this paper, we propose a Decision Support System (DSS) for road and railway bridge scour management that exploits information from a limited number of scour monitoring systems to achieve a more confined estimate of the scour risk for a bridge network. A Bayesian network (BN) is used to describe conditional dependencies among the random variables involved. It allows estimating the present and future scour depth distribution using real-time information from monitoring of scour depth and river flow characteristics. Data collected by SMSs and BN’s outcomes are then used to inform a decision model and thus support transport agencies’ decision frameworks. The idea is to use this information to update the scour threshold after which bridges are closed. A case study consisting of several road bridges in Scotland is built to demonstrate the functioning of the DDS. They cross the same river and only one of them is instrumented with a SMS. The BN is found to estimate accurately the scour depth at unmonitored bridges and the decision model provides higher values of scour threshold compared to the ones implicitly chosen by transport agencies.