Bridge health monitoring is a method of evaluating the ability of a bridge to perform its required task (also called fitness for purpose) by monitoring the response of the bridge to the traffic loads it has to withstand.
This research project, carried out in 1998–1999, is part of stage 2 of the short-term health monitoring and 'fitness for purpose' assessment of 10 bridges on New Zealand highways, in order to develop and evaluate the methodology. The Bealey Bridge over the Waimakariri River, on State Highway 73 east of Arthur’s Pass, Canterbury region, South Island, was built in 1935. It was selected as one of these 10 because it is an aging single-lane reinforced-concrete bridge with a concrete deck, and it has a low conventional strength rating (65%). Its fitness for purpose evaluation indicates that the bridge is safely carrying the heavy vehicle traffic currently using the route.