Research Activities: 2002

Experimental Study on Seismic Retrofit Techniques for Cap Beams, Columns and their Connections of Highway Bridges




View Report:


Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation

Principal Investigator

Genda Chen, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor
University of Missouri-Rolla
328 Civil Engineering Bldg., 1870 Miner Circle
Rolla, MO 65409-0030


Student Involvement

Xiaofei Ying

Project Objective

This study is aimed at: (1) to experimentally investigate the shear and flexural capacity of cap beams and their corresponding columns that are typical in the state of Missouri, (2) to study the cyclic behavior of beam-column joints, and (3) to develop effective retrofit techniques for the seismic upgrading of the cap beams, columns, and their connections.

Project Abstract

To effectively demonstrate the performance of various retrofitting techniques, large- or full-scale test specimens will be tested. The design of the specimens will follow the past practice of the Missouri Department of Transportation. To evaluate the performance of the test units under simulated seismic loading, each test unit will be monitored with LVDTs and strain gages. Testing of the test units will be conducted under quasi-static reversed cyclic loading to induce axial and shear forces as well as bending moments in the specimen, representing different loading conditions in field.

Anticipated Benefits

There is an urgent need to develop design guidelines for the retrofit of bridge beam-column joints. The application of the proposed experimental study will lead to retrofit schemes that will be both efficient and economically competitive. The proposed retrofit schemes will address the following requirements; (1) it is rather easy and simple to implement in the field, (2) traffic disruptions are maintained at minimum levels, and (3) it is durable.
The research results of this study can be used to effectively retrofit inadequate bridges along US60 and other emergency routes for enhanced performance. As a result, 76% of the bridges along US60 without seismic design can be upgraded to comply with the modern design codes; 24% of bridges will unlikely fail in a brittle manner during earthquakes. These efforts will ultimately reduce the potential loss of lives and property damage in Southeast Missouri in the event of a catastrophic earthquake event.

Modal Orientation

Beam-column joint assessment, experimental study


Project Start Date:01/01/2003
Project End Date:12/31/2004

Relationship to other Research/Projects

Matching to the MODOT project

Technology Transfer Activities

The research results will be disseminated at the national and international conferences.

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Experimental evaluation of beams-columns joints, bridge assessment