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


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.

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 be done around the clock until it could be put back into service. WJE’s work included a review of original design documents, an assessment of the chord damage, designing a chord replacement jacking system, field technical assistance, developing chord jacking procedures and jacking oversight, and instrumentation and monitoring of the truss members during jacking.


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 to identify each sensor and its location before installation. WJE engineers installed and monitored approximately 30 strain gages. In addition, WJE monitored jack loads by installing 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.

VDV allowed WJE to rapidly develop a professional 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.

-Richard Lindenberg, Associate Principal WJE


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

Using the Real Time Display function, the most current data readings were displayed on bridge photos and instrumentation plans. The Dashboard tool allowed the processing, consolidation, and display of data in a simple way so that results could be viewed from any internet source with little effort. The client and engineers could view meaningful graphs of the data as it was being collected, as well as 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 precisely where on the bridge the data had come from.

The WJE team successfully replaced the damaged bottom chord and returned the bridge to traffic within 45 days of the incident.