Infrasense Performs Infrared Surveys for Wisconsin Bridge Decks in Waukesha County

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Infrasense recently performed Infrared Thermography (IR) subsurface condition investigations on 12 bridge decks in Wisconsin's Waukesha county. These tests provide condition information quickly and without coring, allowing the client to make a more efficient and more informed decision for bridge deck maintenance needs.

Infrasense's vehicle-mounted Infrared Thermography system in Wisconsin.

Infrasense, Inc., a national leader in detecting subsurface conditions, has recently performed subsurface investigations on 12 bridge decks in Wisconsin's Waukesha county using Infrared Thermography. These tests provide a condition assessment of the reinforced concrete bridge decks without requiring any cores or exposed rebar, and with minimal disruption to traffic flow.

Since 2007, Infrasense has used Infrared Thermography, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), or a combination of both to survey more than 350 bridge decks across Wisconsin for the state Department of Transportation (WisDOT). Using Infrasense's multi-phased approach, a quick and simple preliminary (Level 1) analysis is performed, and bridge decks in good condition can be identified and removed from further detailed analysis. Decks found to have more significant deterioration levels are mapped in detail (Level 2), providing data to accurately plan, program, and budget maintenance and rehabilitation.

The infrared data is collected in a series of passes across each deck, with each pass covering a deck width of between 12 and 15 feet. During the survey, selected areas that appear delaminated in the IR image are manually sounded to confirm the presence of delamination. Because many of these decks have overlays, the reinforcing can be 4-5 inches from the surface, and sounding is not always capable of detecting delamination at this depth. For those locations where the delamination cannot be confirmed by sounding, testing is carried out using the Impact-Echo method. By analyzing wave frequencies through the concrete, the impact-echo equipment is capable of detecting delamination at any depth throughout the thickness of the deck.

Ground penetrating radar data is collected to estimate rebar depth and corrosion conditions. The GPR data is collected in a series of lines spaced 3 feet transversely across the width of the deck, with each line representing a cross sectional slice of the deck at a particular offset. Decks in good condition consist of strong and uniform radar reflections from the rebar. GPR data with weak and inconsistent reflections indicate rebar-level deterioration in the bridge deck.

Many agencies apply GPR and IR separately as tools for bridge deck assessment, or use only one preferred method. Each method has specific strengths and weaknesses, and Infrasense uses a combination of both to create a more effective bridge deck condition assessment. By combining IR and GPR surveys, the maximum amount of information can be obtained for the least cost. Decks with concrete overlays are common in Wisconsin, and illustrate how GPR and IR methods complement each other. Infrared surveys are effective in detecting overlay debonding, while GPR is effective in detecting rebar-level delamination. Combining GPR and IR methods becomes economical when applied with a two-level survey approach.

About Infrasense, Inc.

Since 1987, Infrasense, Inc. has applied the most current technologies to the most difficult challenges in subsurface scanning. Infrasense’s engineers are able to nondestructively extract critical information from a diverse range of structures. The firm has conducted research to advance the field of subsurface detection, while also providing valuable information to clients across the country. Learn more about Infrasense, Inc. and its services at

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Sarah Kelly
Infrasense, Inc.
+1 (781) 648-0440
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Infrasense, Inc.

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