Seismic vulnerability assessment of wall pier supported highway bridges using nonlinear pushover analyses

John L. Bignell, James M. LaFave, Neil M. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pushover analyses were conducted to assess the seismic vulnerability of wall pier supported highway bridges on southern Illinois priority emergency routes. Three-dimensional finite element models were developed to reflect typical hammerhead and regular wall pier bridges from a random sample of the bridge inventory. The models incorporated expected nonlinear structural and material behavior of all the bridge components-superstructure, expansion joints, approach embankments and/or abutments, bearings, wall piers, footings and/or pile caps, and pile and/or mat foundations (plus soil effects)-as well as defining failure measures for each component. Both transverse and longitudinal pushover analyses were conducted on ninety wall pier bridge models reflecting the sample population variation in bridge characteristics such as wall pier type, number of piers, skew, type of foundation, concrete reinforcement ratio, bearing type, and wall height. It was found that the population of wall pier bridges studied was generally vulnerable to wall bearing and abutment bearing failures, wall pier ductility failures, and footing shear and/or bending failures, with bridge skew leading to a coupling of the failure mechanisms from the two pushover directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2044-2063
Number of pages20
JournalEngineering Structures
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Bridge
  • Pushover
  • Seismic assessment
  • Southern Illinois
  • Three-dimensional modeling
  • Wall pier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering

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