This paper presents a case study of the Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez Bridge, which experienced significant damage during an earthquake that occurred in Chile on February 27, 2010. Supported by reinforced concrete and steel columns of varying heights, the superstructure of the bridge consisted of 22 steel-girder spans, with one intermediate expansion joint located at the middle of the bridge. At each end of the bridge, the bottom flanges of the girders were welded to their bearing steel plates, which were embedded and anchored into the bridge abutment. Two, three-dimensional, finite element models (global versus local) with beam and solid elements, respectively, were established for bridge response and damage process simulations. Field observations indicated, and finite element simulations verified, that the damage was caused mainly by the excessive seismic load of 11 continuous steel-girder spans under longitudinal earthquake loading and its eccentricity from the girder-to-abutment connection, which resulted in a significant bending effect. Parametric studies demonstrated that an effective retrofit strategy could be developed through a reduction in the number of continuous spans, modification of the girder-to-abutment connection detail, an increase in the capacity of girders with enlarged bearing seats, added stiffeners for girders, and thicker flanges and webs.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Bridge Response; Chile Earthquakes; Connection Details; Earthquake Loadings; Field Observations; Finite Element Simulations; Parametric Study; Retrofit Strategies; Abutments (Bridge); Columns (Structural); Earthquakes; Fasteners; Finite Element Method; Flanges; Reinforced Concrete; Beams And Girders

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2013 National Research Council (U.S.), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2013