With the advent and development of low-cost wireless structural health monitoring systems, the task of routinely assessing the in-service condition of highway bridges through distributed sensor-based measurements is an increasingly feasible component of bridge safety and management practice. Bridge monitoring encompasses placement of often a limited number of distributed sensors across a relatively large and complex structural system. Consequently, the selection of proper sensor locations is imperative to extraction of the most value from the recorded measurements. An experimental investigation is presented wherein sensor placement on the superstructure girders or primary beams is contrasted to the response measured on the surface of the bridge deck. The effect on the dataset richness, as evidenced by the modal content, is presented and conclusions regarding optimal placement for this structure type are presented. To affirm the plausibility of the observed responses and conclusions drawn, a finite element analysis is also performed on a model developed from the as-built drawings.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.