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Seismic damage of highway bridges during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake

Han Qiang1,2 Du Xiuli1, Liu Jingbo2, Li Zhongxian3, Li Liyun1 and Zhao Jianfeng4

  1. Key Lab. of Urban Security & Disaster Engineering of MOE, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing 100124, China
  2. Department of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  3. College of Civil Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 200072, China
  4. College of Civil Engineering, Qingdao Technological University, Qingdao 266033, China

Abstract: Many highway bridges were severely damaged or completely collapsed during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. A field investigation was carried out in the strongly affected areas and over 320 bridges were examined. Damage to some representative highway bridges is briefly described and a preliminary analysis of the probable causes of the damage is presented in this paper. The most common damage included shear-flexural failure of the pier columns, expansion joint failure, shear key failure, and girder sliding in the transversal or longitudinal directions due to weak connections between girder and bearings. Lessons learned from this earthquake are described and recommendations related to the design of curved and skewed bridges, design of bearings and devices to prevent girder collapse, and ductility of bridge piers are presented. Suggestions for future seismic design and retrofitting techniques for bridges in moderate to severe earthquake areas are also proposed.

Keywords: Wenchuan earthquake; seismic damage; seismic design; highway bridge; field investigation

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Copyright© 2009 IEM. Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as described below, without written permission from the Publisher. Copying of articles is not permitted except for personal and internal use, to the extent permitted by national copyright law, or under the terms of a license issued by the National Reproduction Rights Organization of China.