Monitoring and displaying live data and visual feeds on the Sunshine Bridge

A crane barge crashed into the Sunshine Bridge on the Mississippi River. VDV was used to rapidly set up a web portal to view crucial monitoring data during the repair work for the bridge.


About project

In October 2018 a crane barge crashed into the Sunshine Bridge on the Mississippi River. Following the accident, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) retained Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE) to provide assistance during the repair of the truss chord on the bridge. WJE is a global firm of engineers, architects, and materials scientists working to solve and repair problems in the built world, including providing instrumentation and monitoring services.



VDV allowed WJE to rapidly develop a professionally appearing website to monitor and display live data and visual feeds. The site was intended mainly for the State of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) and its consultants. It allowed members of the LADOTD team to observe live data and visual feeds during critical operations, so they did not have to travel to the site.

It also provided on-going assurance to the state that the structure remained stable between repair steps.

— Richard Lindenberg, Associate Principal WJE

The challenge

The crane barge tow made contact with the bottom truss chord of the Sunshine Bridge which crosses the Mississippi River. The bridge was closed to traffic by the LADOTD. This project became a critical infrastructure project to the state of Louisiana, as the re-route of industrial traffic was significant and the damage to the bridge was severe.

The repair of the bridge was of the highest importance, and the state requested that work would be around the clock until it could be put back into service.
WJE’s work included review of original design documents, an assessment of the chord damage, design of a chord replacement jacking system, field technical assistance, development of chord jacking procedures and jacking oversight, and instrumentation and monitoring of the truss members during jacking.


The solution

WJE instrumented twelve truss members to monitor changes in forces during jacking operations.

The Jacking system members also were monitored. An instrumentation plan was prepared prior to installation identifying each sensor and its location. WJE engineers installed and monitored approximately 30 strain gages. In addition, WJE monitored jack loads through the installation of load cells and pressure transducers.

Video cameras mounted to the truss provided an overall view of the damaged truss member and jacking system. The video feed and instrumentation were monitored throughout the jacking process and were accessible via a web portal. Selected still frames from the video feed were recorded during jacking operations to correlate changes in instrumentation.

Twelve truss members were instrumented to monitor changes in forces during jacking operations
Video cameras made accessible in VDV provided an overall view of the truss member and jacking system.
WJE engineers installed and monitored approximately 30 strain gages.


The results

Vista Data Vision’s dashboard and real time display tools were instrumental in monitoring the Sunshine Bridge during the critical repair period.

The most current data readings were displayed on bridge photos and instrumentation plans using the Real Time Display function. The Dashboard tool allowed processing, consolidation, and display of data in a simple way, so results could be viewed from any internet source with little effort. The client and engineers were able to view meaningful graphs of the data as it was being collected, as well as to view the data with respect to the location of where it was collected. Any concerns that the client or engineers had about a specific instrumented member of the bridge could be viewed in real time from their phones, and without having to perform time consuming data analysis or complex interpretation to identify exactly where on the bridge the data had come from.

The WJE team was able to successfully replace the damaged bottom chord and return the bridge to traffic within 45 days of the incident.



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