Increasing traffic volumes and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure have stimulated the development of new systems and methods to accelerate the construction of highway bridges. Precast concrete bridge components offer a potential alternative to conventional reinforced, cast-in-place concrete components. The use of precast components has the potential to minimize traffic disruptions, improve work zone safety, reduce environmental impacts, improve constructability, increase quality, and lower life-cycle costs.
This study compared two precast concrete bridge pier systems for rapid construction of bridges in seismic regions. One was a reinforced concrete system, in which mild steel deformed bars connect the precast concrete components. The other was a hybrid system, which uses a combination of unbonded post-tensioning and mild steel deformed bars to make the connections.
A parametric study was conducted using nonlinear finite element models to investigate the global response and likelihood of damage for various configurations of the two systems subjected to a design level earthquake. A practical method was developed to estimate the maximum seismic displacement of a frame from the cracked section properties of the columns and the base-shear strength ratio.
The results of the parametric study suggest that the systems have the potential for good seismic performance. Further analytical and experimental research is needed to investigate the constructability and seismic performance of the connection details.