Design of a bridge bumper to protect bridge girders against collisions of overheight vehicles

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2009-05-15

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Abstract

Bridges with low clearance are vulnerable to collision with overheight vehicles. Collisions of overheight vehicles can cause fatalities and injuries to the drivers and passengers of the overheight vehicles, and damage to bridge girders. The repair of the damaged bridges can be costly and time consuming. This research investigates the feasibility of developing a bridge bumper that minimizes the physical injuries and the likelihood of fatalities and protects the structural elements of bridges by absorbing the impact energy. The thesis describes a small-scale impact experiment using the proposed bridge bumper with several options of energy absorbing materials to protect a reinforced concrete beam. A finite element analysis is done to simulate the small-scale impact experiments. Optimization of the finite element model is carried out for the response quantities of interest with respect to the geometrical parameters and the material properties of the proposed bridge bumper. Such analysis can guide the design of an optimal bridge bumper that maximizes the energy dissipation and minimizes the damage to the bridge girder and the likelihood of fatalities and injuries.

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