Predicted and measured response of an integral abutment bridge

Jolene L. Fennema, Jeffrey A. Laman, Daniel G. Linzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


This project examined several uncertainties of integral abutment bridge design and analysis through field-monitoring of an integral abutment bridge and three levels of numerical modeling. Field monitoring data from a Pennsylvania bridge site was used to refine the numerical models that were then used to predict the integral abutment bridge behavior of other Pennsylvania bridges of similar construction. The instrumented bridge was monitored with 64 gages; monitoring pile strains, soil pressure behind abutments, abutment displacement, abutment rotation, girder rotation, and girder strains during construction and continuously thereafter. Three levels of numerical analysis were performed in order to evaluate prediction methods of bridge behavior. The analysis levels included laterally loaded pile models using commercially available software, two-dimensional (2D) single bent models, and 3D finite element models. In addition, a weather station was constructed within the immediate vicinity of the monitored bridge to capture environmental information including ambient air temperature, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, humidity, rainfall, and barometric pressure. Laterally loaded pile models confirmed that inclusion of multilinear soil springs created from p-y curves is a valid approach for modeling soil-pile interaction within a finite element program. The 2D and 3D numerical models verified the field data indicating that primary accommodation of superstructure expansion and contraction is through rotation of the abutment about its base rather than longitudinal translation, as assumed in the original design of this bridge. Girder axial forces were suspected to be influenced by creep and shrinkage effects in the bridge superstructure. Pile strains were found to be well below strains corresponding to pile plastic moment. Overall, the 2D numerical model and the 3D numerical model predicted very similar behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-677
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bridge Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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