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Statistical Analysis of Underpasses Damaged During 2010

Chile Earthquake
Felipe Toro, Felipe Rubilar, Matias A. Hube, Hernn Santa-Mara
and Tamara Cabrera
ABSTRACT
Approximately 300 bridges, representing less than 3% of the total number of Chilean
bridges, were damaged during the 2010 Maule earthquake. From these damaged bridges, which
include pedestrian bridges, 20 suffered collapsed spans. The objective of this study is to conduct a
statistical analysis of the 88 underpasses located in a representative section of the main route 5.
This analysis is aimed to correlate the bridge characteristics with the observed damage level. Past
studies reveal that this type of post-earthquake analysis is a robust tool to nurture the decisionmaking process for upgrading vulnerable structures and for guiding future performance based
engineering studies. To conduct the statistical analysis a database was built with the underpasses
characteristics such as location, presence or absence of reinforced concrete (RC) stoppers or
concrete lids, skew angle, and seismic zone. Additionally, the database includes the description of
damage, the required repairing action, and the estimated repairing cost. From this study it is
concluded that critical variables affecting the underpasses behaviour are the presence or absence of
stoppers, the skew angle, and the location of the bridge. Bridges with concrete lids should be
avoided because their repairing cost is higher than the repairing cost of bridges with RC stoppers
and have a larger probability of collapse The average repairing cost for the considered underpasses
is estimated in 11% of their construction cost and the skewed underpasses were more vulnerable
than non skewed bridges because their repairing cost is higher.

__________
Hernn Santa-Mara, Associated Professor, PUC, Vicua Mackenna 4860, Santiago, Chile
Matias A. Hube, Assistant Professor, PUC, Vicua Mackenna 4860, Santiago, Chile
Felipe Rubilar, Graduated Student, PUC, Vicua Mackenna 4860, Santiago
Felipe Toro, Graduated Student, PUC, Vicua Mackenna 4860, Santiago, Chile
Tamara Cabrera, Project Reviewer Engineer, MOP, Bandera 76, Santiago, Chile
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INTRODUCTION
A Mw 8,8 Chile earthquake occurred on February 27th, 2010, in the central southern region
of Maule (Boroschek et al., 2012). More than a third of a million buildings were damaged to
varying degrees, including some cases of total collapse of major structures (Elnashai et al., 2012).
The transportation system registered 830 failures on roads in both the public and private
transportation networks. Of the nearly 12,000 highway bridges in Chile, approximately 300 were
damaged, including 20 with collapsed spans (Buckle et al., 2012). A total of 221 public bridges and
91 concession bridges suffered damage or collapse (MOP, 2010). The most common observed
damage modes were: the damage between super and substructure, transverse displacement and/or
rotation of the superstructure, unseating of spans due to skew, and cracking of prestressed concrete
(PC) girders induced by the impact with transverse stoppers. Detailed damage of Chilean Bridges
after the earthquake has been reported by several authors (Buckle et al., 2011; Elnashai et al., 2012;
Kawashima et al., 2011; Hube et al. 2010; Schanack et al., 2012; Yen et al., 2011). The total
economic losses due the earthquake has been estimated in 30 US$ billion (Elnashai et al., 2012),
which is equivalent to approximately 17% of the GDP of Chile. The cost to repair the damage in
the road infrastructure has been estimated at US$ 850 million (MOP, 2010). The emergency and
reconstruction program of the Ministerio de Obras Pblicas (MOP) considers about 500 US$
million which is intended to repair only the public road infrastructure.
The Chilean bridge structures are classified in four categories: underpasses, overpasses,
bridges, and pedestrian overcrossing. An underpass and an overpass are bridge structures where the
main route runs underneath or over the secondary route, respectively. The bridge category is a
structure that is used to cross rivers or creeks. The statistical analysis presented in this study is
conducted using the 88 underpasses of a section of Route 5 from the Maipo River, 29 km south of
Santiago, to the southern area of Chilln, 412 km to the south. Typical underpasses are two-spans
bridge structures with a central pier and two abutments, see Figure 1. In the considered section of
route 5 there are two concession companies involved in the construction and operation of the road;
the total number of bridge structures is 375, with 88 underpasses, 53 overpasses, 122 bridges, and
112 pedestrian overcrossing. The main objective of this study is to conduct a statistical analysis of
damaged and undamaged underpasses using a database of 88 structures to obtain the critical
variables that triggered the observed damage behavior. The second objective is to estimate the
repairing cost of damaged underpasses, which is of great relevance for future performance based
engineering studies.
After the arrival of the concession companies in the mid-90s, typical bridge designs for
underpasses have been evolving. Before the 90s bridge design consisted of simply supported PC
girders, with a reinforced concrete (RC) slab, transverse RC diaphragms at the supports, RC
stoppers, and vertical bars or hold downs for preventing uplift (Figure 2a). In the new design, the
RC diaphragm was eliminated, as shown in Figure 2b. Additionally, in some bridges the RC
stopper was replaced by a concrete cover, or lid, with a small gap between the PC girder and the
cover, as shown in Figure 2c. The structural difference between the latter two configurations is
explained later. It is important to note that in other damaged underpasses, not considered in this
study, the RC stoppers and the vertical hold downs were replaced by steel stoppers for preventing
both the transverse displacement and the vertical uplift (Hube and Rubilar, 2011). Most
underpasses considered in this statistical analysis have the structural configurations shown in
Figure 2b and 2c, without diaphragm.

Figure 1. Representative Underpass. Source: Google Earth

a) Typical design before the 90s

b) New design without diaphragm

c) New design without diaphragm and with concrete lids

Figure 2: Cross Sections of Underpasses


BRIDGE DESIGN CODE AND CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES
The Chilean bridge design code at the time of the earthquake (MOP, 2002) was based in the
AASTHO code (AASHTO, 1996) and specifies four seismic analysis procedures depending on the
bridge characteristics: (1) seismic coefficient (SC) method, (2) modified SC method, (3) modal
spectral analysis, and (4) time history analyses. The SC method uses a constant SC of SAo/2g >
0.10, where Ao is the effective acceleration and S depends on the soil classification (MOP, 2002).
The effective acceleration represents the seismic hazard level and the country is divided in three
seismic zones (1, 2, and 3) as explained later.
The minimum seat width at the abutments and piers is identical to the AASHTO (1996)
recommendations, and vertical hold down bars (see Figure 2) are required to reduce the uplift of
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the deck. The hold downs are designed with a vertical coefficient of Kv=Ao/2g neglecting the effect
of the dead load, and they must be at least 22 mm in diameter. However, the design code does not
specify a prestressing force for these hold downs. Transverse diaphragms are required to maintain
the geometric section of the deck. However, these diaphragms can be eliminated in seismic zones 1
and 2 if an adequate performance of the bridge can be demonstrated.
To limit transversal displacement of the superstructure, bridges are usually provided with
lateral stoppers. A stopper is a structural element located at the abutment or cap-beam and it is
located at the side of the exterior girder, or in some cases, in between the girders. A RC stopper at
the end of a cap beam for a bridge of the presented database is shown Figure 3a. According to the
design code (MOP, 2002), each stopper has to be designed for half of the total lateral seismic load
of the superstructure. Since the lateral seismic load of a simply supported superstructure is resisted
in most cases by two stoppers (one on each end of the superstructure), the pair of stoppers resist the
total seismic load. Additionally, the stoppers should be ductile enough to prevent unseating of the
spans, they should be taller than 30 cm, which is not the case of the stopper shown in Figure 3a,
and a minimum gap of 5 cm should be provided between the stoppers and the girders.
In the presented database, several underpasses were constructed without stoppers but with
concrete lids, as shown in Figure 3b. A concrete lid is a vertical element located at the edges of the
abutments or cap-beam and it is installed for esthetical reasons. This element has minimum
reinforcement and it is not designed to resist lateral force or deformation. When bridges are
designed with concrete lids, the transverse resistance is provided entirely by the elastomeric
bearings and the vertical hold downs. The hold downs prevent the uplift of the superstructure and
are intended to maintain the normal force in the bearing to prevent sliding. But, as mentioned
earlier, no prestressing force is specified for the hold downs, and sliding of elastomeric bearings
was observed in several bridges.
Shortly after the earthquake, MOP issued new design requirements that need to be revised
with further research. Some examples of the modifications incorporated in these requirements are:
transverse diaphragms are mandatory for all bridges, and each stopper has to be designed with the
total lateral seismic load, doubling the pre-earthquake design force.

a) RC stopper
b) Concrete lid
Figure 3. Difference Between RC Stopper and Concrete Lid

BRIDGE DATABASE
As the damage in overpasses was distributed through different highways along the country,
information of all underpasses located in a representative section of the main route 5 was
consolidated into one database. The database of 88 underpasses was constructed using structural
drawings, damage inspection reports and soil mechanics reports of most underpasses. This
information was obtained with the support of MOP. The database includes the following
information for each bridge: location, seismic zone, length and width of the superstructure, skew
angle, number of girders, presence or absence of RC diaphragm, presence or absence of RC
stoppers or concrete lids, number of vertical hold downs, description of damage, and the required
repairing action.
Based on the detailed description of damage, four damage levels (DL) were defined for the
whole bridge as well as for elements such as girders, stoppers or concrete lids, expansion joints,
vertical hold downs, and columns. The damage in the access roads and soil embankments in the
abutments was not considered in this study. The damage level for the whole bridge was defined
based on the operation condition immediately after the earthquake. DL-1 stands for a bridge with
no damage; DL-2 stands for a bridge that suffered low damage and required minimum or no repair;
DL-3 stands for a bridge with damage that required to be repaired; and DL-4 is assigned to a
collapsed bridge. A similar definition of the damage levels was used for the elements. Examples of
the four damage levels for the whole bridge and for the girders are shown in Figures 4 and 5,
respectively.

Figure 4. Bridge Damage Levels

Figure 5. Girder Damage Levels


SUMMARY OF BRIDGE PERFORMANCE AND STATYSTICAL ANALYSIS
The statistical analysis of the 88 underpasses located in a section of Route 5 is described in
this section. From these bridges, 97% were constructed with no transverse diaphragms, even
though 24 of them are located in seismic zone 3 where the use of diaphragms is mandatory (MOP,
2002). The damage of the 88 underpasses varied from no damage to collapse, where three
underpasses collapsed. The variables analyzed in this section are the stopper configuration, the
skew angle, and the seismic hazard definition.
Stopper Configuration
Out of the 88 underpasses of the database, 41 were provided with concrete lids, 38 with RC
stoppers and 9 had a combination of concrete lids and stoppers, or with a different structural
configuration such as post tensioned box girder. The number of bridges classified in each damage
level for underpasses with only concrete lids or RC stopper is shown in Figure 6. The figure shows
that the three bridges that evidenced collapse, i.e. bridges with DL-4, were provided with concrete
lids. However, 5 bridges with concrete lids and 16 bridges with RC stoppers suffered damage DL3, which means that even though bridges provided with RC stoppers did not collapse, they still
suffered serious damage. The number of bridges without damage, i.e. bridges with DL-1, was 14
for bridges with concrete lids and 5 for bridges with RC stoppers. Hence, 34% of bridges with
concrete lids were undamaged, and only 13% of bridges with RC stoppers were undamaged.

Figure 6. Number of Damaged Bridges with Concrete Lids or RC Stoppers


The percentage of bridges with each damage level of the girders is shown in Figure 7. The
figure shows that girders in bridges with concrete lids were less damaged than those in bridges
with RC stoppers: 78% and 45% of underpasses had undamaged girders for bridges with concrete
lids and RC stoppers, respectively. Additionally, the percentage of bridges with DL-4 was 2% and
5% for bridges with concrete lids and RC stoppers, respectively. The larger damage in girders of
bridges with RC stoppers was induced by the impact of the bottom flange of the girder against the
RC stopper during the earthquake. The girders of bridges with concrete lids had reduced damage
because the impact force induced by the weaker concrete lids was small. It is important to note that
most bridges considered on this database (97%) had no transverse diaphragm. Therefore, the
transverse force in the girder induced by the impact between the bottom flange and the stoppers or
concrete lids had to be resisted entirely by a single girder; it was not distributed to all the girders as
it is the case for bridges with transverse diaphragms.

Figure 7. Girder Damage on Bridges with Concrete Lids or RC Stoppers

The percentage of bridges that evidenced large displacement or rotation of the


superstructure was 22% and 13% for bridges with concrete lids and RC stoppers, respectively. A
displacement or rotation of the superstructure was considered large when it required to be aligned
back to the original position. As a rule of thumb, MOP defined that if the displacement measured in
a single bearing was larger than 50 mm the superstructure had to be positioned back, but the
decision to fix the superstructure was analyzed for each particular bridge.
Skew Angle
The underpasses of the database were classified according to the skew angle in three
categories: negligible skew angle (less than 5), small skew angle (between 5 and 25), and large
skew angle (more than 25). The numbers of bridges with negligible, small, and large skew angle
are 70, 9, and 9, respectively. Most of the underpasses of the database have no skew. The
percentage of underpasses for each skew angle category with different bridge damage level is
shown in Figure 8. This figure shows that bridges with negligible skew did not collapse. On the
other side, 22% (2 out of 9) and 11% (1 out of 9) of bridges collapsed with small skew angle and
large skew angle, respectively. Finally, Figure 8 shows that bridges with large skew angle
presented the larger dispersion in the distribution of damage level, with 22%, 33%, 33%, and 11%
of bridges with damage level DL-1, DL-2, DL-3, and DL-4, respectively.

Figure 8. Damage Level of Bridges with Different Skew Angle


The percentage of bridges that showed large displacement or rotation of the superstructure
was 26% and 13% for bridges with skew and with negligible skew angle, respectively. Therefore, it
is concluded that the skew angle facilitated the displacement or rotation of the superstructure.
Seismic Hazard Definition
The seismic hazard for bridges is specified in the bridge design code (MOP, 2002), which is
based in the seismic code for buildings (INN, 1996). In both codes, the country is divided into the
same three seismic zones, based on the distance to the ocean trench, and the seismic hazard is
specified with an effective acceleration (Ao). The west of the country is defined as seismic zone 3
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with an effective acceleration of 0.4g. The middle and east of the country are defined as seismic
zones 2 and 1, respectively, with effective accelerations of 0.3g and 0.2g, respectively. The
definition of these discrete seismic zones affects the design of bridges, where different discrete
values of the seismic coefficient are used at different seismic zones. The number of underpasses of
the database located in seismic zones 3 and 2 are 24 and 64 bridges, respectively. The percentage
of underpasses located in each seismic zone, with different bridge damage level is shown in Figure
9. This figure shows that the percentage of undamaged bridges (DL-1) is similar for bridges
located in both seismic zones. The three underpasses of the database that collapsed (DL-4) are all
located in seismic zone 2, which represents 5% of the bridges in this zone. It is important to note
that the collapsed bridges were designed with a lateral force 33% smaller than that of bridges
located in seismic zone 3.

Figure 9. Damage Level of Bridges Located in Different Seismic Zones


The location of the underpasses considered in this work, and the seismic zones 3 and 2, are
shown in Figure 10. In this region of the country, with a length of about 400 km, there is no
seismic zone 1. The seismic zones are defined on the code for each Municipality (INN, 1996);
therefore, two bridges located very close to each other, but at two adjacent Municipalities, may
have a large difference on seismic hazard because of the discrete value in the effective acceleration.
In fact, the borders of the Municipalities do not correlate with the distance to the ocean trench, nor
to the distance of crustal faults. This fact reveals the urgent need to develop a new and continuous
seismic hazard map in Chile. The bridges located in seismic zone 3, which are located near the
cities of Talca and Chilln, have similar distance to the ocean trench and to the rupture area
(Boroschek et al., 2012) than the rest of the bridges of the database; however, they were designed
with a 33% larger lateral load than those bridges located in seismic zone 2.
The damage levels of the underpasses are shown in Figure 10 with different colors. The
figure shows that the most damaged underpasses, including three collapses, were located between
40 and 80 km south of Santiago. Geotechnical site effects may explain these localized damages.
These site effects will be studied in the future by measuring soil shear wave velocities at the
location of each underpass.

Figure 10. Location of Damaged Bridges and Definition of Seismic Zones: Seismic Zone 3 shown
with Dark Grey and Seismic Zone 2 shown with Light gray
REPAIRING COSTS
The detailed repairing action for each underpass after the earthquake was obtained from
MOP. With this information we are able to correlate the damage level of each bridge with the
repairing cost.
The total cost to build a brand new underpass is estimated using unit price information
provided by MOP for a similar bridge. The construction cost of each underpass of the database was
estimated using the unit price information and the number of girders, the width of the
superstructure and the span length. The cost of the abutments and piers are also included, but the
cost of the soil embankments and the access roads are excluded from this analysis.
The repairing cost of each bridge was estimated using the required repairing action and the
damage level defined in this study. For the case of girder damage levels (see Figure 5), the
repairing costs associated to DL-1, DL-2, DL-3 and DL-4 were estimated as 0%, 5%, 50%, 150%
of the total cost of new girders, respectively. The cost of replacement of the expansion joints was
estimated as 300% of the cost of a new joint because it requires demolition and complex concrete
casting adjacent to the joint. The repairing costs of concrete lids and RC stoppers of abutments and
piers, and the repairing cost of superstructure alignment for bridges with displacement larger than
50 mm are also included. Finally, repairing costs associated to columns or foundation repairs were
not considered because the columns and foundations of the considered bridges were undamaged.
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The estimated repairing cost of the underpasses considered in this study varies from 0% to
120% of the bridge cost, and the average repairing cost is 11%. A repairing cost of 120% of the
cost of a new bridge is assigned to bridges with damage DL-4 because of the demolition cost. The
average repairing costs for bridges with concrete lids and RC stoppers are 14% and 10%,
respectively. These results suggest that concrete lids should be avoided and that bridges should be
designed with stoppers. The average repairing cost for skewed (angle of skew larger than 5) and
non-skewed bridges are 26% and 7%, which means that skewed bridges are more vulnerable than
non-skewed bridges. Finally, the average repairing costs for bridges located in seismic zones 2 and
3 are 13% and 7%, respectively. The last result is consistent with the fact that bridges in seismic
zone 3 were designed with higher seismic demand.
CONCLUSSIONS
A statistical analysis of the 88 underpasses located is conducted in this research. The main
conclusions from this study are:
Bridges provided with RC stoppers did not collapse. However, 13% of bridges with RC
stoppers were undamaged, while 34% of bridges without RC stoppers (with concrete lids) were
undamaged.
Skewed bridges presented larger dispersion in bridge damage than non-skewed bridges. The
percentage of bridges with displacement or rotation of the superstructure was 26% and 13% for
skewed, and non-skewed bridges, respectively.
The discrete definition of the seismic hazard level in Chile influenced the bridge behavior. The
three bridges of the database that collapsed were located in a seismic zone with a lower
effective acceleration. There is an urgent need to develop a new and continuous seismic hazard
map in Chile.
The average repairing cost for the underpasses is estimated in 11% of their construction cost.
Bridges with concrete lids should be avoided because their repairing cost is higher than the
repairing cost of bridges with RC stoppers and have a larger probability of collapse.
The average repairing costs for skewed and non-skewed bridges are 26% and 7% of their
construction cost, respectively. Skewed bridges are more vulnerable than non-skewed bridges,
and that current Chilean design provisions should be revised to provide uniform vulnerability
to both type of bridges.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was supported by the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and
Technological Research (CONICYT) through projects FONDEF D10i1027 and FONDECYT
#11121581.
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