Dynamic Field Testing of the Route 58 Meherrin River Bridge

Report No: 97-R4

Published in 1996

About the report:

Dynamic response has long been recognized as one of the significant factors affecting the service life and safety of bridge structures, and considerable research, both analytical and experimental, has been devoted to this area of behavior. In the design of most contemporary bridges, dynamic effects are included in the form of equivalent static loads. However, design considerations rarely include an evaluation of the structural and geometric parameters of the superstructure that influence dynamic response. Further research is needed to clarify the dynamic behavior of bridge structures and the corresponding physical characteristics that affect the response. The primary objective of this investigation was to determine and evaluate the dynamic response of a typical simple span bridge that had unexpectedly large oscillations under normal traffic loading. This was accomplished through a series of field tests in which the response was measured using accelerometers and strain gages. To supplement these data, analytical models (finite element models) representative of the bridge structure were developed to predict the dynamic response. The field data were used to validate the models. The refined models were then used for parameter studies in evaluating the effect of various factors on bridge response. The results of this investigation provided insight into the dynamic response of a typical simple span bridge constructed in accordance with AASHTO specifications.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  •  A. L. Wolek, Thomas Thaxton Baber, Furman W. Barton, Ph.D., Wallace T. McKeel, Jr., P.E.

Last updated: December 16, 2023

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