Determination of characteristic bridge DAF using dynamic finite element analysis of critical static loading scenarios

Colin C. Caprani, Dublin Institute of Technology
Paraic Rattigan
Arturo Gonzalez
E. J. O'Brien

Document Type Conference Paper

In Third National Symposium on Bridge and Infrastructure Engineering in Ireland, eds. N.A. Ni Nuallain, A. O'Connor and K. Gavin, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, pp.21-28.


The development of accurate codes for the design of bridges and the evaluation of existing structures requires adequate assessment of site-specific heavy traffic loading and also the dynamic interaction that may occur as this traffic traverses the structure. Shortcomings in current design codes occur due to the relatively independent manner in which critical static loading values and the corresponding allowance for dynamic amplification factor (DAF) are obtained. It is important that an approach is adopted that allows for the reduced probability of both high static loading and high dynamic amplification occurring simultaneously. Consideration of only relevant critical loading events will allow for efficient and accurate determination of independent values for characteristic (lifetime-maximum) static and total load effects.

This paper proposes a method whereby initially the critical static loading scenarios for a chosen bridge are determined, from Monte Carlo simulation using weight-in-motion (WIM) data from a typical European route. The development of a database of 3-dimensional finite element bridge and truck models allows for the analysis of these various different combinations of vehicular loading patterns. Thus the bridge specific critical loading scenarios are modelled and analysed individually to obtain the critical total (dynamic + static) load effect. It will then be possible to obtain a correlation between critical static load effect and corresponding total load effect/DAF and to extrapolate a characteristic DAF. This approach can lead to significant savings in structural design/assessment where site-specific maximum design load effects are determined from measured traffic data and experimental bridge-truck dynamic interaction.