Wave Forces on Bridge Decks
Click here for the video: "Laboratory Experiment of how Waves Damage Bridges"
A study of existing knowledge of wave forces on highway bridge decks was recently completed for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of their response to the damage to coastal bridges in Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan. Two fundamental questions addressed by this synthesis study are:
- “What is the specific damage mechanism during these storms?”
- “How big are the wave forces on bridge decks?”
U.S. 90 bridge across Biloxi Bay, MS
A review of existing literature
found very limited guidance on methods for estimating wave loads on bridge decks in the transportation engineering field but some applicable guidance (wave loads on piers and offshore platforms) in the coastal and ocean engineering field.
A new method
for estimating wave loads on highway bridge decks which is consistent with the literature and explains the damage to bridges in the recent hurricanes well is outlined.
Exploratory laboratory tests
of waves hitting scale models of bridge decks do a good job of demonstrating the likely damage mechanism. The damage is caused as the storm surge raises the water level to an elevation where larger waves can strike the bridge superstructure. Thus, a better understanding of wave loads on bridge decks will be valuable for engineering applications.