Seismic effects on multi-span bridges with high degrees of horizontal curvature

Principal investigators: Ian Buckle, Ahmad Itani, David Sanders

Project manager: Kelly Lyttle, P.E.

Graduate research assistants:

  • M. An-Ani (Ph.D.)
  • M. Levi (M.S.)
  • E. Monzon (Ph.D.)
  • A. Saad (Ph.D.)
  • D. Smith (M.S.)
  • C. Wei (Ph.D.)
  • J. Weiser (Ph.D.)
  • H. Wibowo (Ph.D.)

Sponsored By

  • National Science Foundation - NEES Shared-Use Access
  • Federal Highway Administration through contract DTFH61-07-C-00031
  • California Department of Transportation through contract 59A0695

Project summary

A project is underway at the University of Nevada, Reno to investigate the seismic effects of multi-span curved bridges using a 2/5 scale model of a three-span bridge. The model is 145 ft long with an 80 ft radius at the centerline and it rests on four shake tables in the laboratory. The superstructure consists of three steel girders and a concrete deck that is 12 ft wide.

The testing of this model is part of a larger project investigating seismic resilience, funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Six different configurations will be tested to examine different components, including column design (with and without conventional columns), abutment design (with and without backfill behind the abutments), seismic isolation (with and without response modification devices), and the effects of live load (with and without trucks on the superstructure).

This specimen was designed by a team of eight graduate students under the supervision of three professors in civil engineering.

Bridge test matrix
Test Test Focus Superstructure Type Substructure Type Fail Columns Bearing Type Abutment Type
1 Conventional columns Elastic crossframes 24" Column (Set A) Yes Steel No pounding
2 Live load Elastic crossframes 24" Column (Set B) Yes Steel No pounding
3 Base isolation Elastic crossframes 24" Column (Set C) Yes Elastic isolators No pounding
4 Hybrid isolation/ductile crossframes Ductile crossframes 24" Column (Set D) No Hybrid isolators No pounding
5 Abutment pounding Elastic crossframes 24" Column (Set D) Yes Steel Pounding
6 Rocking column Elastic crossframes Rocking Column Yes Steel No pounding

Currently, there are no design regulations on horizontally curved bridges and the data from this project will provide new insight on their behavior under seismic loading. The results of the research will be incorporated into future industry design codes. Ultimately, this will help structural engineers design curved bridges to withstand the effects of strong earthquakes.