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BRIDGE DECK AND PARAPET DESIGN BY


VEHICLE IMPACT SIMULATION

Conference Paper · November 2006

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BRIDGE DECK AND PARAPET DESIGN BY VEHICLE IMPACT
SIMULATION

YEUNG, Ngai WONG, Carlos


Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd. Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd.
Hong Kong SAR, China Hong Kong SAR, China

Summary

The purpose of bridge parapets is to contain and redirect vehicles back to the traffic lanes. Using
conventional static method to replace the dynamic vehicle impacting effects by an "equivalent" static
force may lead to a design not reflecting the impact mechanism and that the dynamic movement of the
vehicle cannot be checked. This paper tries to establish a design based on the dynamic impact
simulation technique in LS-DYNA environment. A 22-ton bus and different types of box-girder bridges,
with different types of high containment bridge parapet were modelled in LS-DYNA environment. The
results show that not only a design based on the vehicle-to-parapet impact interaction can be achieved
but the movement of the vehicle can also be studied whether it would overturn or suffer damages so
badly that it may cause large number of injuries if it was a real life impact.

Keywords
Bridge Parapet, Bus, Impact, Design, Containment Level, LS-DYNA

1. Introduction

Bridge parapets are designed to contain errant vehicles and to redirect them back to the traffic lanes.
The latest versions of national standards for bridge parapets in many countries such as USA, EU
member countries and China classify the parapets into different containment levels. The base, or the
normal containment level is to contain a saloon car or in the USA, a pickup truck. Containment levels
higher than this could be to contain a bus, a medium to heavy goods vehicle or an articulated truck.
We can attribute this classifications to the economical consideration of the cost of high containment
parapets, not only the parapet itself is expensive but also the supporting elements in the bridge deck -
since the impact loads are high in high containment parapets.

Hong Kong is a place where double-decked buses are driven everywhere. A new containment level,
which is unique to Hong Kong, has been introduced recently and it requires the parapet to contain a
22-ton double-decked bus travelling at 50kph hitting at an angle of 20 degrees. Using traditional static
method replacing the dynamic effects by an "equivalent" static force may lead to a design not
reflecting the impact interaction between vehicle and parapet, yet the dynamic movement of the
vehicle cannot be checked.

This paper tries to establish a design based on the dynamic impact simulation technique in LS-DYNA
environment. LS-DYNA is a general-purpose finite element code for analysing the large deformation
dynamic response of structures [HALLQUIST, 1998]. Highly non-linear finite element models are
constructed and analysed in LS-DYNA. The dynamic behaviour and deformation of the bus are
studied. The dynamic stress distribution and force transfer of the box girders and the parapets are
extracted for design of the bridge deck and parapet.
2. Finite Element Models

2.1 Bus Model

The prototype of the double-decker bus is a Leyland Olympian 11M tri-axle bus. A detailed finite
element model of the bus, as shown in Fig. 1, was developed based on this bus in another Arup project
[ARUP, 2005A]. Using the full-scale test results from the bus impact tests [ARUP, 2005B], the
robustness of the bus model and its ability to represent the realistic impact behaviour of the double-
decked bus has been verified.

Fig. 1 Finite Element Model of the 22-Ton Bus

2.2 Bridge Deck and Parapet Models

Two types of normal viaduct bridge deck, namely, Type B box girder for 2-lane traffic and Type C box
girder for 3-lane traffic, were modelled in LS-DYNA. Two types of 1.5m high parapets, a concrete
profile parapet and a code-named PEN parapet with steel rails on top of concrete base, were installed
on the edge of the box girders to form three typical bridges. The cross sections of these three
combinations are shown in Fig. 2.

(a) (b) (c)


Fig. 2 (a) Type B Box with Concrete Parapet; (b) Type B Box with
PEN Parapet; (c) Type C Box with PEN Parapet

The total length of the modelled bridges was 60m. The 120mm surfacing was modelled to transfer the
vertical wheel loading from the bus to the bridge deck. The surfacing has no contribution to the
strength of the box girder.

3. Virtual Impact Test


3.1 Configuration of Impact Test

Previously most viaducts in Hong Kong have been designed with normal containment vehicle parapets.
Based on this requirement, typical box girder sections have been designed for use in the section
between Tsing Yi and Cheung Sha Wan, part of the Route 8 Highway Project. This section of Route 8
comprises a 7.6km dual 3-lane highway.

Due to a fatal traffic accident involving a container truck and a double-decked bus on Tuen Mun Road
in 2003, the parapet containment level was increased to high containment level from a normal
containment level for the Route 8 Project. Such a change requires not only the change of parapet type
but also may trigger a strength upgrading of the box girder structure due to the increased impact loads.
An initial estimate, using traditional static method replacing the dynamic effects by an "equivalent"
static force, indicated that the box structure is under strength and requires substantial strengthening
works. Consideration was then given to a dynamic impact simulation approach that would provide a
more realistic estimate avoiding the unnecessarily large safety factor paid to cover the uncertainty in a
conventional design.

The configuration of impact test for containing a 22-ton bus is given in Table 1.

Table 1 Impact Test Configuration


Parapet Height 1.5 m
Impact Vehicle 22-Ton Double-Decked Bus
Impact Velocity 50 km/h
Impact Angle 20 degrees

3.2 Virtual Test

The virtual test was carried out in a super-computer graded clustered computers under Linux operation
system in the Arup Hong Kong office. A downstream view of the impact to PEN parapet on Type C
box is illustrated in Fig. 3, which shows good road dynamic of the vehicle and the ability of the
parapet in containing the run-away bus.

(a) t = 0.27 sec (b) t = 0.50 sec (c) t = 0.82 sec


Fig. 3 Virtual Impact Test
In all of the three virtual tests, the bus has a second impact when it is turned away by the parapet, with
its heavy engine block sitting at the back of the bus hit on the parapet. Due to the concentrated mass of
the engine block, the second impact is causing more damage to the parapet than with the first impact
on the bus front corner, which happens to be the bus-landing zone. The time history records of the
acceleration and velocity change at the C.G. of the bus model are extracted from the simulation results
to quantify the movement of the bus during the impact. The longitudinal and transverse acceleration
and velocity history are shown in Fig. 4. The rotation of the bus during impact is shown in Fig. 5.

Fig. 4 Longitudinal and Transverse Acceleration and Change of Velocity at C.G. of the Bus

Fig. 5 Rotation of the Bus During Impact

4. Dynamic Impact Force

The two impacts: - on the front corner and on the rear engine compartment of the bus as seen in the
simulation results are the two major events that cause damages to the parapet and its supporting
structure. The dynamic impact force in time domain can be captured in the parapet and the bridge deck.
Because of the time difference, the peak of the force is generally not coincident. Fig. 6 compares the
time history of the transverse impact force on the concrete parapet (Fig. 2(a)) with the vertical wheel
loading on the bridge deck.
The sum of impact force normal to the parapet has a peak of 380 kN at t = 0.21s during the first impact,
and a peak of 530 kN at t = 0.75s during the second impact.

The first impact lasts for about 0.3s from t = 0.0s to 0.34s, and the second impact lasts for about 0.2s
from t = 0.67s to 0.88s. Fig. 6 shows that the dynamic wheel loading reaches the maximum at the
beginning of the two impacts. At the beginning of the second impact when t = 0.70s, the sum of the
dynamic wheel loading on the bridge deck is 450kN vertically which doubles the static wheel load
under bus self-weight.

Fig. 6 Time History of Impact Force, Wheel Load, and Bus Self-weight

An interesting observation is that the sum of wheel loading drops to its minimum level when the
impact force normal to parapet reaches its maximum at t = 0.21s and t = 0.75s, respectively. As shown
in Fig. 3, this is due to the driver side wheels are in the air at this moment - after the body of the bus
and the off-side wheels hit the parapet, the bus leans towards it, thus the driver side wheels are not in
contact with the deck. The sending off the impacting vehicle in the air is one of the aims of the
concrete barrier profile design.

In conclusion, the most critical time is at t = 0.70s to 0.75s when the vertical wheel load and transverse
impact load on the parapet have peak values, but they do not occur at the same time. The loading
points of these forces are not lined along the same cross section of the bridge deck. Thus the two peak
loads should not be considered as happening at the same time and at the same spot as in the
conventional approach in which “equivalent” static loads for both the impact load and the vehicle
wheel loads have to be considered together at the impact point.

5. Parapet and Bridge Deck Design

5.1 Critical Sections of the Bridge Deck

As described in the above Section, the most critical load case for the deck design shall be the
combination of dead load of the bridge deck and parapet, the live load from the bus self-weight, and
the impact load on the parapet. The most critical sections of the Type B and Type C box are shown in
Fig. 7.

Due to the increase of the parapet height from 1.0m (for normal containment) to 1.5m (for high
containment), the increased dead load is designed under static approach. The impact load on the 1.5m
parapet due to a 22 tonne bus is considered under dynamic approach. The design effects of the two are
added together to check the capacity of the section.

Critical Critical
Section 1 Section 1

Critical Critical
Section 2 Section 2

(a) Type B Box Section (b) Type C Box Section


Fig. 7 Critical Design Sections on Box Girder Type B and Type C

5.2 Stress Distribution

The stress distributions on the critical sections due to the combined effect of live load (i.e. the gravity
loads from the wheels) and the impact load are extracted from the LS-DYNA analysis results. The
sectional forces are then derived, based on the stress distributions and used in the bridge deck and
parapet design.

Fig. 8 shows an example of the maximum principal stress distribution on the bridge deck and the
parapet at the time of the second impact (t = 0.75 sec) when the stress reaches the maximum value of
4.9 MPa. A section view of the stress distribution at the impact point is shown in Fig. 9.

A time history plot showing the maximum principal stress at the top of the two critical sections is
shown in Fig. 10. The stress history induced by the dynamic wheel load and the impact force is shown
in Fig. 6. Fig. 10 indicates that the maximum principal stress has a peak of 4.90MPa for the critical
section 1 at t = 0.75s, while for critical section 2, the peak of 3.71MPa appears at t = 0.74s.

By judgement, the stress distribution along the depth of the critical section 1 at t = 0.75s shall be used
to derive the sectional forces. The stress distribution along the depth of the critical section 2 at t =
0.74s shall be used to derive the sectional forces.

Fig. 8 Stress Distribution on the Deck During Second Impact at t = 0.75 sec
Fig. 9 Stress Distribution at the Impact Point During Second Impact at t = 0.75 sec

Fig. 10 Stress Time Histories at Critical Sections 1 and 2

The stress distributions along the depth of the critical section 1 at t = 0.75s and critical section 2 at t =
0.74s are shown in Fig. 11 (a) and (b). The distribution is not exactly linear, but for simplicity it is
assumed to be linear.

(a) At Critical Section 1 (b) At Critical Section 2


Fig. 11 Max/Min Principal Stress Along the Depth of the Critical Sections

5.3 Base Shear


The shear force at the section of the parapet base is shown in Fig. 12. The total shear force at the
parapet base was found to reach its maximum value of about 500kN at t = 0.75s. This is consistent
with the peak impact force plotted in Fig. 6.

Fig. 12 Shear Force Time History at Parapet Base

5.4 Section Force

The stress and the derived sectional forces for a 1m length of deck at the impact point from the three
simulation cases are summarised in Table 2 and Table 3. It shows that the concrete parapet helps to
spread the impact load into the deck, thus induces smaller forces at the critical sections. The PEN
parapet generally attracts comparatively bigger forces. It is estimated that the large deformation of the
top rails on the PEN parapet absorb more energy locally than that at the impact area.

Table 2 Stress and Derived Bending Moment at Critical Section 1


Simulation Model Max. Stress Derived Bending
σ (MPa) Moment M (kNm)
Bus to Concrete Parapet on Type B Box Girder 4.9 38.7
Bus to PEN Parapet on Type B Box Girder 7.6 65.7
Bus to PEN Parapet on Type C Box Girder 6.8 57.7

Table 3 Stress and Derived Bending Moment at Critical Section 2


Simulation Model Max. Stress Derived Bending
σ (MPa) Moment M (kNm)
Bus to Concrete Parapet on Type B Box Girder 3.7 108.4
Bus to PEN Parapet on Type B Box Girder 4.3 130.8
Bus to PEN Parapet on Type C Box Girder 4.1 203.1

On the other hand, the PEN Parapet has the benefit to be about 30% lighter than the Concrete Parapet.
The combined load effect of dead load, the maximum live load and impact load obtained from the
dynamic simulation can then be used in the detailed design of the bridge deck and parapet. The depth
of the critical section 1 in both Type B and Type C box is finalised to be 210mm. The critical section
2 is 390mm thick for Type B box and 510mm thick for Type C box. These sections were totally
inadequate should the design have been carried by using the conventional method without the
knowledge of how the vehicle reacts with the parapet.
6. Conclusion

Based on the dynamic impact simulation technique in LS-DYNA environment, a “dynamic” approach
is established in this paper to demonstrate that a design based on a trust-worthiness simulated vehicle
movement in the impact event can be used in the design of the deck and parapet elements. The results
showed that a design based on static approach has over estimated the load effects leading to an
uneconomical design, but it does not warrant that the same conclusion will recur when the parapet type
is changed. The worst will be the simulation points to other direction, i.e., the static approach under
estimates the load effects. The movement of the vehicle can also be studied as whether it would
overturn or suffer damages so badly that it may cause large number of injuries, although the parapet
has fulfilled its design purpose of containing the bus.

References

ARUP, 2005A, Bus Model Report, Agreement No. CE27/2003(HY) Study of Vehicle Impact on
Bridge Parapets and Roadside Barriers – Feasibility Study, Report No. 24181-REP-020-02, August
2005.

ARUP, 2005B, Final Report, Agreement No. CE27/2003(HY) Study of Vehicle Impact on Bridge
Parapets and Roadside Barriers – Feasibility Study, Report No. 24181-REP-031-01, August 2005.

HALLQUIST, J. O., 1998, LS-DYNA Theoretical Manual, Livermore Software Technology


Corporation, 1991-1998.

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