Effect of vehicular and seismic loads on the performance of integral bridges

Erhan, Semih
Integral bridges (IBs) are defined as a class of rigid frame bridges with a single row of piles at the abutments cast monolithically with the superstructure. In the last decade, IBs have become very popular in North America and Europe as they provide many economical and functional advantages. However, standard design methods for IBs have not been established yet. Therefore, most bridge engineers depend on the knowledge acquired from performance of previously constructed IBs and the design codes developed for conventional jointed bridges to design these types of bridges. This include the live load distribution factors used to account for the effect of truck loads on bridge components in the design as well as issues related to the seismic design of such bridges. Accordingly in this study issues related to live load effects as well as seismic effects on IB components are addressed in two separate parts. In the first part of this study, live load distribution formulae for IB components are developed and verified. For this purpose, numerous there dimensional and corresponding two dimensional finite element models (FEMs) of IBs are built and analyzed under live load. The results from the analyses of two and three dimensional FEMs are then used to calculate the live load distribution factors (LLDFs) for the components of IBs (girders, abutments and piles) as a function of some substructure, superstructure and soil properties. Then, live load distribution formulae for the determination of LLDFs are developed to estimate to the live load moments and shears in the girders, abutments and piles of IBs. It is observed that the developed formulae yield a reasonably good estimate of live load effects in IB girders, abutments and piles. In the second part of this study, seismic performance of IBs in comparison to that of conventional bridges is studied. In addition, the effect of several structural and geotechnical parameters on the performance of IBs is assessed. For this purpose, three existing IBs and conventional bridges with similar properties are considered. FEMs of these IBs are built to perform nonlinear time history analyses of these bridges. The analyses results revealed that IBs have a better overall seismic performance compared to that of conventional bridges. Moreover, IBs with thick, stub abutments supported by steel H piles oriented to bend about their strong axis driven in loose to medium dense sand are observed to have better seismic performance. The level of backfill compaction is found to have no influence on the seismic performance of IBs.