Seismic performance of highway bridges with fusing bearing components for quasi-isolation

Evgueni T. Filipov, Jessica R. Revell, Larry A. Fahnestock, James M. Lafave, Jerome F. Hajjar, Douglas A. Foutch, Joshua S. Steelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern highway bridges in Illinois are often installed with economical elastomeric bearings that allow for thermal movement of the superstructure, and steel fixed bearings and transverse retainers that prevent excessive movement from service-level loadings. In the event of an earthquake, the bearing system has the potential to provide a quasi-isolated response where failure of sacrificial elements and sliding of the bearings can cause a period elongation and reduce or cap the force demands on the substructure. A computational model that has been calibrated for the expected nonlinear behaviors is used to carry out a parametric study to evaluate quasi-isolated bridge behavior. The study investigates different superstructure types, substructure types, substructure heights, foundation types, and elastomeric bearing types. Overall, only a few bridge variants were noted to unseat for design-level seismic input in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, indicating that most structures in Illinois would not experience severe damage during their typical design life. However, Type II bearing systems, which consist of an elastomeric bearing and a flat PTFE slider, would in some cases result in critical damage from unseating at moderate and high seismic input. The sequence of damage for many bridge cases indicates yielding of piers at low-level seismic input. This is caused by the high strength of the fixed bearing element, which justifies further calibration of the quasi-isolation design approach. Finally, the type of ground motion, pier height, and bearing type were noted to have significant influence on the global bridge response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1394
Number of pages20
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 25 2013


  • Earthquake response history analysis
  • Highway bridges
  • Quasi-isolation
  • Seismic isolation
  • Sliding bearings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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