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Bridges -- Design and construction -- Specifications -- United States, Storms -- Safety measures, Wave resistance (Hydrodynamics), Water waves


A. Objectives The objectives of this study are to: (1) conduct the first, large-scale physical model study of wave loads on a highway bridge superstructure under realistic wave conditions and bridge geometries, and (2) evaluate the application of existing design formulas developed for deep water, wave-in-deck loading of offshore structures to shallow water, highway bridge geometries. This will aid in our understanding of the dynamic loads by hurricane waves on highway bridge superstructures and assess the accuracy of present methods for safer design of new bridges or retrofit of existing bridges. B. Scope In their 2006 report titled "Wave Forces on Bridge Decks" prepared for the US Department of Transportation, Office of Bridge Technology, Douglass et al. provide a synthesis of existing knowledge related to hurricane wave forces on highway bridge superstructures. Their extensive literature search found that the existing methods to evaluate wave loads on highway bridge geometries were not adequate. One of the uncertainties is due to a lack of physical model test data with highway bridge geometries using modern wave generating capabilities to simulate realistic sea states. One of their conclusions is that more research with hydraulic models is necessary to develop new analytical tools to advance bridge design. This one-year project will conduct the first-of-its-kind, large-scale, hydraulic model test of wave forces on a highway bridge superstructure cross-section, similar to those bridges that failed during Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Ivan in 2004. One graduate student will be trained in the area of wave-structure interaction, and two undergraduate students will be involved in this research. Project results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications. C. Methodology The hydraulic model study will be conducted in the Large Wave Flume at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University, the largest facility of its kind in North America, and in conjunction with the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation at OSU. The model will be scaled 1:4 for length and 1:2 for time using Froude similitude. The model will be constructed of concrete and steel using a realistic cross-section and will be instrumented with sensors to provide wave conditions, impact pressures, dynamic horizontal and vertical loads, and moments. The wave climate will be derived from available buoy data and existing wave modeling studies. Existing methods developed for wave-indeck loading of offshore platforms as outlined by McConnel, Allsop and Cruickshank (2004) will be compared with the data to evaluate the accuracy of these methods. D. Relevant OTREC theme This project advances technologies leading to safer design and repair of bridges subjected to wave loadings. It will develop new knowledge in this area, will train one graduate student and two undergraduate students, and will develop national leadership in this area at Oregon State University. E. USDOT priorities Safety Assurance of Highway Structures for Extreme Events to "improve the performance of bridges and other highway structures under the impacts of extreme events." Safety, Structures Research to provide "highway managers and engineers with information and tools to design, build, and maintain safer and better performing infrastructure assets.


This is a final report, OTREC-RR-11-10, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at:

The project brief associated with this final report can be found at:



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