Structural Reliability of Bridges Elevated with Steel Pedestals
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Overheight vehicle impact to bridge decks is a major problem in the transportation networks in the United States. An important factor that causes this problem is inadequate vertical clearance of bridges. Using steel pedestals to elevate bridge decks is an efficient and cost-effective solution for this problem. So far, steel pedestals have been used in the low seismic regions of the United States and therefore, their design has been based on providing enough strength to carry vertical loads and the lateral behavior of bridges elevated with pedestals have not been a major concern. But even in low seismic zones the seismic hazard should not be completely ignored. Also there might be some bridges in medium or high seismic regions that need to be elevated because of the lack of enough vertical clearance and using steel pedestals can be considered as an option for elevating those bridges. To address the mentioned needs, this dissertation proposes a framework to determine the structural reliability of bridges elevated with steel pedestals by developing probabilistic capacity and demand models for the slab-on-girder bridges subjected to lateral loads. This study first compares the behavior of previously tested pedestals with the behavior of elastomeric bearings in low seismic regions using statistical tests. Then, to provide a general framework, which can be applied to all bridges that are elevated with steel pedestals, this dissertation develops probabilistic capacity and demand models for steel pedestals considering all the aleatory and epistemic uncertainties of the problem. Using the developed probabilistic models along with the available models for other components of bridges, seismic fragility curves for elevated bridges are obtained and used to determine the structural reliability. Finally, this study uses the developed framework in a decision analysis that helps the engineering community and decision makers to check if the installation of steel pedestals on a specific bridge has financial justification or not. Results show that for a typical two-span slab-on-girder bridge, the use of steel pedestals has financial justification only in low seismic regions and if the societal benefits of elevating the bridge can at least cover the installation cost of pedestals.
Bisadi, Vahid 1980- (2012). Structural Reliability of Bridges Elevated with Steel Pedestals. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from