While modern overpass bridges are safe against collapse, their functionality will likely be compromised in case of design-level or beyond design-level earthquake, which may generate excessive residual displacements of the bridge deck. Presently, there is no validated, quantitative approach for estimating the operational level of the bridge after an earthquake due to the difficulty of accurately simulating residual displacements. This research develops a novel method for probabilistic evaluation of the post-earthquake functionality state of the bridge; the approach is founded on an explicit evaluation of bridge residual displacements and associated traffic capacity by considering realistic traffic load scenarios.

This research proposes a high-fidelity finite-element model for bridge columns, developed and calibrated using existing experimental data from the shake table tests of a full-scale bridge column. This finite-element model of the bridge column is further expanded to enable evaluation of the axial load-carrying capacity of damaged columns, which is critical for an accurate evaluation of the traffic capacity of the bridge. Existing experimental data from the crushing tests on the columns with earthquake-induced damage support this phase of the finite-element model development.

To properly evaluate the bridge's post-earthquake functionality state, realistic traffic loadings representative of different bridge conditions (e.g., immediate access, emergency traffic only, closed) are applied in the proposed model following an earthquake simulation. The traffic loadings in the finite-element model consider the distribution of the vehicles on the bridge causing the largest forces in the bridge columns.

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Transportation Engineering

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Continuous girder bridges, Traffic capacity, Loss and damage, Traffic loads, Dynamic models


Infrastructure | Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning