Seismic evaluation of the northbound N1/R300 bridge interchange

Solms, M. N. ; Haas, T. N. (2016)

CITATION: Solms, M. N. & Haas, T. N. 2016. Seismic evaluation of the northbound N1/R300 bridge interchange. Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, 58(4):62-71, doi:10.17159/2309-8775/2016/v58n4a7.

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The design of the Stellenberg Interchange was finalised in 1982, with construction completed in 1986. The bridge was designed using a code of practice which did not include any requirements for seismic excitation. This code was superseded by the Code of Practice for the Design of Highway Bridges and Culverts, which provides detailed analysis guidelines for bridges located in seismic-prone areas. According to this code, the bridge is located in a seismic-prone area with an anticipated peak ground acceleration of 0.1 g. Current research suggests that this region could be exposed to a peak ground acceleration of approximately 0.2 g. Upon inspection of the bridge, it was noted that the bridge does not conform to modern-day best practice guidelines for bridges located in seismic-prone regions. These factors necessitated an exploratory investigation to determine whether the bridge can sustain earthquake magnitudes between 0.05 g and 0.2 g. The study was conducted by experimentally determining the natural frequencies with its corresponding mode shapes, which were used to calibrate a finite element model. The finite element model was subjected to different magnitude earthquakes to determine its structural integrity. The results show that, for an earthquake of 0.1 g, the bending moment at one of the column bases is exceeded, while two other column base moments are within 15% of its design capacity. For a 0.2 g magnitude earthquake, the design bending moments at five columns are significantly exceeded, while three other columns' design moments are close to being exceeded. The exceedance of the design moments could lead to significant damage, with the possibility of collapse of the bridge.

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