In countries with steep rivers, such as Japan and the United States, bridges fail on an annual basis. Bridges on spread footings are especially susceptible to failure by hydrodynamic loading, often exacerbated by debris damming. Here, such failures are investigated via small scale model laboratory experiments and full scale numerical simulations. In the laboratory, lift and drag forces and overturning moment on bridge decks, piers, and deck-pier systems, are measured and compared with threshold of failure criteria used in design guidelines. Effects of debris on lift, drag, and moment, as well as three-dimensional effects, are quantified. Via numerical simulations, flow patterns and free surface behaviour responsible for these forces are investigated, and described in a framework as a function of the water depth, flow speed, deck clearance, and girder height. Results show that current guidelines are non-conservative in some cases. Importantly, failure of both decks and piers can be prevented by strengthening pier-deck connections, or by streamlining decks.
- Computational fluid dynamics
- Load cell