Seismic design of bridge structures with allowance for large relative girder movements to avoid pounding
Pounding between bridge girders have been observed in almost all previous major earthquakes. This is because the gap size of conventional bridge expansion joint is usually only a few centimetres, which is not sufficient to preclude poundings owing to large relative displacements between bridge girders caused by the effect of varying vibration properties of adjacent bridge spans, varying ground motions at bridge supports and varying soil-structure interaction (SSI). In this work a new design of bridge expansion joint is introduced. Instead of tolerating pounding and providing possible mitigating measures, this new design approach enables large movement between bridge girders which makes a complete pounding preclusion possible. The new expansion joint is called Modular Expansion Joint (MEJ). The large movability is achieved by installing a number of small gaps in the joint. In this study, the MEJ gap size required to completely avoid girder pounding is investigated. The most significant influence factors – the varying vibration properties of adjacent bridge spans, the effect of SSI and ground motion spatial variation on expansion joint size required to preclude pounding- are calculated. Discussions on the relative importance of various structural and ground motion properties in generating relative displacements of adjacent bridge girders are made.
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