Bridges are an important societal resource used to carry vehicular traffic within a transportation network.  As such, the economic impact of the failure of a bridge is high; the recent failure of the I-35W Bridge in Minnesota (2007) serves as a poignant example.  Structural health monitoring (SHM) systems can be adopted to detect and quantify structural degradation and damage in an affordable and real-time manner.  This paper presents a detailed overview of a multi-tiered architecture for the design of a low power wireless monitoring system for large and complex infrastructure systems.  The monitoring system architecture employs two wireless sensor nodes, each with unique functional features and varying power demand.  At the lowest tier of the system architecture is the ultra-low power Phoenix wireless sensor node whose design has been optimized to draw minimal power during standby.  These ultra low-power nodes are configured to communicate their measurements to a more functionally-rich wireless sensor node residing on the second-tier of the monitoring system architecture. While the Narada wireless sensor node offers more memory, greater processing power and longer communication ranges, it also consumes more power during operation.  Radio frequency (RF) and mechanical vibration power harvesting is integrated with the wireless sensor nodes to allow them to operate freely for long periods of time (e.g., years).  Elements of the proposed two-tiered monitoring system architecture are validated upon an operational long-span suspension bridge.

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