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Bridges -- Retrofitting -- Oregon -- Evaluation -- Planning, Bridges -- Oregon -- Design and construction -- Evaluation -- Planning, Earthquake resistant design -- Oregon -- Evaluation -- Planning, Earthquake hazard analysis -- Oregon -- Planning


Over the years, earthquakes have exposed the vulnerability of reinforced concrete structures under seismic loads. The recent occurrence of highly devastating earthquakes near instrumented regions, e.g. 2010 Maule, Chile and 2011 Tohoku, Japan, has demonstrated the catastrophic impact of such natural force upon reinforced concrete structures. Research was conducted to investigate the effect of subduction zone earthquakes on structural damage. The study suggests that large magnitude ground motions of long duration have the potential of significantly increasing the number of inelastic excursions and consequently incur more extensive structural damage as compared to ground motions with similar elastic spectral demands but of shorter duration. This increase in demand plays a crucial role in the Pacific Northwest where a mega subduction zone earthquake is impending.

Typical reinforced concrete bridge bents constructed in the 1950 to mid-1970 in the State of Oregon were designed and built with minimum seismic considerations. This resulted in inadequate detailing within plastic hinge zones, leaving numerous RC bents highly susceptible to damage following an earthquake. In this study, the cyclic performance of an as-built RC square column and a reinforced concrete bridge bent retrofitted using buckling restrained braces (BRBs) was experimentally evaluated using quasi-static cyclic loading protocols aiming to reflect subduction zone earthquake demands up to displacement ductility. The buckling restrained braces were designed as replaceable elements in order to take the earthquake-induced energy and dissipate it through nonlinear hysteretic behavior. Two BRB designs were considered in the study in an effort to assess the influence of BRB stiffness on the overall structural performance. The results of these large-scale experiments successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of utilizing buckling restrained braces for achieving high displacement ductility of the retrofitted structure, while also controlling the damage of the existing vulnerable reinforced concrete bent up to the design performance levels. The potential of improving the overall seismic behavior and the design performance levels with BRBs offers structural design professionals a viable method for performance driven retrofit of reinforced concrete bents.


The is the final version of report FHWA-OR-RD-16-01. Copies available from NTIS, and online at:

This report was created for the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.



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