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Structural assessment procedures for existing concrete bridges: Experiences from failure tests of the Kiruna Bridge
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Structural and Fire Engineering. (Structural Engineering)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8889-4237
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Assessing existing bridges is an important task in the sustainable management ofinfrastructure. In practice, structural bridge assessments are usually conducted usingtraditional and standardised methods, despite knowledge that these methods oftenprovide conservative estimates. In addition, more advanced methods are available, suchas nonlinear finite element (FE) analysis, that are used for research purposes and cansimulate the structural behaviour of bridges more accurately. Therefore, it would beuseful to develop practical and reliable procedures for refined assessments using theseadvanced techniques.Focusing on the ultimate load-carrying capacity of existing concrete bridges, this thesispresents a procedure for structural assessments. The fundamental idea is to improve theassessment successively, as necessary to predict bridges’ structural behaviour adequately.The procedure involves a multi-level assessment strategy with four levels of structuralanalysis, and an integrated framework for safety verification. At the initial level (Level 1)of the multi-level strategy, traditional standardised methods are used, no failures arecovered implicitly in the structural analysis and action effects are verified using localresistances calculated using analytical models. In the subsequent enhanced levels (Levels2 – 4), nonlinear FE analysis is used for stepwise integration of the verification of flexural,shear-related and anchorage failures into the structural analysis. The framework for safetyverifications includes partial safety factor (PSF), global resistance safety factor (GRSF) andfull probabilistic methods. Within each of these groups, verifications of desired safetymargins can be conducted with varying degrees of complexity.To demonstrate and evaluate the proposed structural assessment procedure, comparativestudies have been carried out, based on full-scale tests of a prestressed concrete bridge.This was the Kiruna Bridge, located in the northernmost city in Sweden, which was duefor demolition as part of a city transformation project, necessitated by large grounddeformations caused by the large nearby mine. Thus, it was available for destructiveexperimental investigation within the doctoral project presented in this thesis. The bridgehad five continuous spans, was 121.5 m long and consisted of three parallel girders with a connecting slab at the top. Both the girders and slab were tested to failure to investigatetheir structural behaviour and load-carrying capacity. Non-destructive and destructivetests were also applied to determine the residual prestress forces in the bridge girders andinvestigate the in situ applicability of methods developed for this purpose. The so-calledsaw-cut method and decompression-load method were used after refinement to enabletheir application to structures of such complexity. The variation of the experimentallydetermined residual prestress forces was remarkably high, depending on the sectioninvestigated. There were also high degrees of uncertainty in estimated values, and thusare only regarded as indications of the residual prestress force.Level 1 analysis of the multi-level assessment strategy consistently underestimatedcapacity, relative to the test results, and did not provide accurate predictions of the shearrelatedfailure observed in the test. With linear FE analysis and local resistance modelsdefined by the European standard, Eurocode 2, the load-carrying capacity wasunderestimated by 32 % for the bridge girder and 55 % for the bridge deck slab. At theenhanced level of structural analysis (Level 3), nonlinear FE analyses predicted thecapacities with less than 2 % deviation from the test results and correctly predicted thefailure mode. However, for existing bridges there are many uncertainties, for instance,the FE simulations were sensitive to the level of residual prestressing, boundaryconditions and assumed material parameters. To accurately take these aspects intoaccount, bridge-specific information is crucial.The complete structural assessment procedure, combining the multi-level strategy andsafety verification framework, was evaluated in a case study. Experiences from theprevious comparative studies were used in an assessment of the Kiruna Bridge followingthe Swedish assessment code. The initial assessment at Level 1 of the multi-level strategyand safety verification, using the PSF method, indicated that the shear capacity of one ofthe girders was critical. The most adverse load case (a combination of permanent loads,prestressing and variable traffic loads) was further investigated through enhancedstructural analyses implicitly accounting for flexural and shear-related failures (Level 3).Nonlinear FE analysis and safety evaluation using the PSF method, several variants of theGRSF method and the full probabilistic analysis for resistance indicated that the permittedaxle load for the critical classification vehicle could be 5.6 – 6.5 times higher than thelimit obtained from the initial assessment at Level 1. However, the study also indicatedthat the model uncertainty was not fully considered in these values. The modeluncertainty was shown to have strong effects on the safety verification and (thus)permissible axle loads. The case study also highlighted the need for a strategy forsuccessively improving structural analysis to improve understanding of bridges’ structuralbehaviour. The refined analysis indicated a complex failure mode, with yielding of thestirrups in the bridge girders and transverse flexural reinforcement in the bridge deck slab,but with a final shear failure of the slab. It would be impossible to capture suchcomplexity in a traditional standardised assessment, which (as mentioned) indicated thatthe shear capacity of the girder limited permissible axle loads. However, nonlinear FEanalyses are computationally demanding, and numerous modelling choices are required.Besides a strategy for rationally improving the analysis and helping analysts to focus oncritical aspects, detailed guidelines for nonlinear FE analysis should be applied to reduce the analyst-dependent variability of results and (thus) the model uncertainty. Clearly, toensure the validity of bridge assessment methods under in situ conditions, theirevaluations should include in situ tests. This thesis presents outcomes of such tests, therebyhighlighting important aspects for future improvements in the assessment of existingbridges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2017.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Anchorage, carbon fibre reinforced polymers, concrete, existing bridges, finite element analysis, flexure, full-scale test, load-carrying capacity, residual prestress force, punching, safety verification, shear, structural assessment, structural behaviour
National Category
Infrastructure Engineering
Research subject
Structural Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-63000ISBN: 978-91-7583-878-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7583-879-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-63000DiVA: diva2:1088259
Public defence
2017-06-08, F1031, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-04-13 Created: 2017-04-12 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved

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