Timber bridges in Tasmania are built using timber of only moderate durability. As a consequence, their structural capacity reduces with time due to decay processes. Timber bridge inspection to determine the structural condition of bridges, and to rate their load carrying capacity, is an essential part of timber bridge management.
Traditional inspection methods use visual examination, soundings, and boring to rate the condition of bridge elements. Traditional inspection methods, when performed by experienced person, is very reliable.
Most bridge elements, particularly beams and pile, can be rated using traditional methods. However, some defects that affect structural capacity are "invisible" to traditional methods, and the use of simple truck load testing is proposed as an adjunct to the traditional methods to improve the reliability of timber bridge inspection and capacity rating.
The following truck load testing methods are applied only to timber bridge beam testing.
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