[Case Study] Malcolm X Bridge – Instrumentation and Monitoring for Risk Assessment

Located in Maryland, USA, the Malcolm X Bridge is one of the most prominent overpass bridges in the region. It is also one of the primary structures located in the direct vicinity of the Purple Line transit system, a multi-billion dollar project currently under construction in Maryland. As the bridge falls right into the project axis of the transit, monitoring it was one of the most crucial steps during the pile foundation construction.

Malcolm X Bridge

In this blog, we take a look into how Rite Geosystems Inc., the USA division of Encardio Rite, undertook the responsibility to monitor the bridge for complete risk assessment.

An Overview of the Project

Owned by the Maryland Department of Transporation (MDOT), Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), and Purple Line purpleTransit Partners, LLC (PLTP), the $5.6 billion-dollar Purple Line Project aims to connect various communities across Maryland, right from Bethesda (Montgomery County) to New Carrollton (Prince George’s County).

This project is set to comprise five key activity center stations, namely Silver Spring, Bethesda, College Park, New Carrolton, and Takoma-Langley Park, along with 16 smaller stations consisting of commercial districts, residential communities, and institutional establishments. The USP of this transit system is how it aims to provide direct connections to the current Metrorail’s three branches, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line, and all three MARC commuter lines.

Purple Line Metro in USA

The Purple Line transit system was designed to navigate around and through densely developed communities and suburbs. This way, it would be able to provide the mass transportation services it intended to, to the umpteen passengers located in its path.

metro route map

However, there were numerous properties/structures situated, prone to potential influence from the adjacent construction of the transit system. For this reason, the Maryland Transit Authority developed a structure protection plan, which also included the monitoring of the Malcolm X Bridge. Rite Geosystems Inc. provided a complete bridge monitoring system to monitor the structure during construction.

Also ReadBridge Monitoring – Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge – A Case Study ]

Why Opt for Bridge Monitoring Solutions?

Bridges are significant investments and risking such structures also means risking the entire transport network that utilizes them. A reliable monitoring strategy helps to avoid this risk and thus, is a must-have for construction projects involving bridges, such as the Purple Line one.

Thanks to modern technology, cutting-edge instruments are available that capture bridge vibrational data and allow us to track them remotely. These include a plethora of geotechnical instrumentation that aid in data collection and transmission, such as data loggers, relay nodes, digital nodes, etc.

bridge monitoring system

Also ReadType of Data Loggers and How Do They Work? ]

Once the data is obtained, it is then sent over to geotechnical data management systems, such as Encardio Rite’s DRISHTI, TERRAWEB, and OPSIS. These systems provide seamless access to the instrumentation data and help in an almost real-time assessment of a bridge’s condition.

Using a complete combination of these instruments, we analyze a bridge’s vibrational measurements. This helps us to understand how its various components (dampers, abutments, girders, bearings, etc.) are behaving dynamically, and in turn, take necessary measures to avoid danger. This is exactly what we did to monitor the Malcolm X Bridge as well.

Bridge Monitoring System for the Malcolm X Bridg

Malcolm X Bridge USA

Rite Geosystems Inc.’s bridge monitoring solution included the following aspects to monitor the Malcolm X Bridge continuously:

  • A supply of geotechnical instruments
  • Using compact dataloggers for automatic monitoring
  • Using an online WDMS (web-based data management system) with pre-set alarms

Malcolm X Bridge Monitoring – Instrumentation 

Biaxial tiltmeters

Rite Geosystems Inc.’s biaxial tiltmeters were placed all across the bridge.


These bridge monitoring sensors helped in consistently monitoring the structure to check if any deformations were taking place.


Our automatic compact dataloggers, equipped with GSM/GPRS modems, were implemented as well.


These helped in collecting data from tiltmeters and transmitting them to our web-based data monitoring system, DRISHTI.

Also ReadWhat are Tiltmeters and Where are They Used? ]

Moreover, we also provided Drishti monitoring for a total duration of six months. This helped to avail of fully online cloud-based monitoring for the bridge while the Purple Line’s track was being installed. All alarm notifications regarding the structure’s integrity were sent via email/SMS.

In Conclusion

This was a holistic account of how Encardio Rite’s USA counterpart, Rite Geosystems Inc. monitored the Malcolm X Bridge during the Purple Line’s track installation. Our top-of-the-line instrumentation paved the way for us to conduct a consistent risk assessment and avoid foreseeable damage to the transit track to be constructed.

Stay tuned to our blogs for more geotech-related articles and information.

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