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Effects of vertical excitation on seismic performance of highway bridges and hold-down device requirements

Domaniç, Kemal Arman
Most bridge specifications ignore the contribution of vertical motion in earthquake analyses. However, vertical excitation can develop significant damage, especially at bearing locations as indeed was the case in the recent 1999 İzmit Earthquake. These observations, combined with recent developments in the same direction, supplied the motivation to investigate the effects of vertical component of strong ground motion on standard highway bridges in this study. Reliability checks of hold-down device requirements per AASHTO Bridge Specifications have been conducted in this context. Six spectrum compatible accelerograms were generated and time history analyses were performed to observe the uplift at bearings. Selected case studies included precast pre-stressed I-girders with concrete slab, composite steel I-girders, post-tensioned concrete box section, and composite double steel box section. According to AASHTO specifications, hold-down devices were required in two cases, for which actual forces obtained from time history analyses have been compared with those suggested per AASHTO. The only non-linearity introduced to the analyses was at the bearing level. A discussion of effects on substructure response as well as compressive bearing forces resulting from vertical excitation is also included. The results of the study confirmed that the provisions of AASHTO governing hold-down devices are essential and reasonably accurate. On the other hand, they might be interpreted as well to be suggesting that vertical ground motion components could also be included in the load combinations supplied by AASHTO, especially to be able to estimate pier axial forces and cap beam moments accurately under combined vertical and horizontal excitations.