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Experimental Vibration Analysis for Civil Engineering Structures

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Dynamic behavior of various types of pedestrian bridges


C.S. Oliveira
ICIST/IST, Lisbon, Portugal

T.N. Silva
Teixeira Duarte, Lda, Lisbon, Portugal

ABSTRACT: Two different types of pedestrian bridges, representative of the Portuguese stock,
were selected, one in steel and the other in RC, for pedestrian and seismic loading after a large
campaign of in-situ measurements of natural frequencies, damping and amplitude levels. In that
campaign we observed that reinforced concrete (RC) structures, for the same spans and the
same loads, presented higher frequencies and lower amplitudes than steel structures. The two
structures were subjected to dynamic testing produced by different pedestrian loading, simulating current practical situations, from walking to running. In-situ measurements were made and
results compared with analytical detailing modeling. The models, in the linear range, subjected
to loads similar to the ones of the testing, reproduced with reasonable similarity the pattern of
the measured vibrations, being quite adequate for this type of loading. We also computed the
seismic response of both bridges in order to check their level of safety.
1 INTRODUCTION
The need for a great development of pedestrian bridges in Portugal is related to the large amount
of freeways or motorways constructed in recent years crossing urban areas. Pedestrian bridges
are in general quite different from viaducts over freeways not only due to differences in the
loading but also because the former can enjoy better the advances in material developments and
architectural creativity. In general they are lighter, built with high strength materials, spanning
larger distances and having a wide variety of structural designs. They tend to become slender
structures with less mass but they show more pronounced dynamic effects due to possible resonant consequences in the passage of pedestrians. Large vibration amplitudes are in the range of
discomfort and so the phenomenon deserves attention in order to understand the problems that
may arise and the way they should be dealt with.
For a number of years we have been building a Data-base on the main dynamic characteristics of different types of pedestrian bridges built in Portugal (Oliveira, 1997 and 2004). However, not many analytical studies were made for these types of structures in order to verify the
reliability of standard structural analysis programs to obtain their correct representation through,
at least, the frequencies of vibration (Caetano and Cunha, 2004) and the response for pedestrian
loading. Silva (2005) has studied two different pedestrian bridges, representative of the most
common steel and reinforced concrete types existing in Portugal, for frequency and pedestrian
crossing loading comparisons with in-situ measurements. He also subjected these structures to
the seismic action corresponding to the Portuguese Code (RSA, 1983).
2 MAIN TYPES OF PEDESTRIAN BRIDGES IN PORTUGAL
This study reports on 2 out of 43 pedestrian bridges of several geometric layouts, structural types,
deck cross-sections, materials and spanning distances varying from 12 m to 74 m, Figure 1. The

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most common cases are the steel viaducts with box-girder decks and the pre-cast reinforced concrete (RC) viaducts with pre-stressed beams. Besides the steel and RC materials, fibre-glass is also
used. Figure 2 presents a classification of the main structural deck types.
On top of the several above mentioned variations, there are a few other factors that influence
the overall behaviour of these structures, namely the number of spans and the type of connections, the lateral pathway (ramp, stairways in the longitudinal or transversal directions), the
height, and the width or the curvature of the bridge axis, in elevation and plan.
80

Free Span (m)

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

10

20

30

Number

40

50

Figure 1. Statistics of span values of pedestrian bridges analysed.

Figure 2. Main structural deck types for pedestrian bridges.

A Data-base was built with the main following parameters: 1) Identification; 2) Location; 3)
Year of construction; 4) Structural type; 5) Span; 6) Height; 7) Width; 8) Lateral access; 9) Designer/contractor; 10) State of conservation; 11) Frequencies of 1st and 2nd vertical, transversal,
longitudinal modal shapes; 12) Amplitudes of vibration for 1 pedestrian walking at normal
speed. For most cases, GIS information is used with the location, a photo and a sketch.
Frequencies of vibration were obtained from in-situ experimental measurements as will be
explained in section 3.2 and main results are presented in Figures 3 a), b) and c), where the frequencies of first mode in the vertical, transversal and longitudinal directions are shown. Pedestrian bridges were grouped into three classes, Steel box-girders pedestrian structures, RC structures and Truss structures, and a power curve fitting on the span length (L) (y=aL ) was essayed
for the frequency of the first vertical mode, for each typology class. As it could be expected, the
correlation for the Steel box-girders are much higher than for RC beams and the equation values
resemble the bridge pattern as a whole. However, for Truss structures, the existing variety, with 2D, 3-D, steel, fiber-glass, etc. cases, is so large that no correlation can be observed. A more detailed classification, entering with other parameters, namely the material and the location of stairways, would certainly increase the correlation of frequency with length.
For all these structures, damping is quite small with values well below <0.5%, even for large
amplitude motions.

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Experimental Vibration Analysis for Civil Engineering Structures

.
10
-1,1025

y = 135,71x

Freq (Hz)

Ftrans

R = 0,6794

Flong

Fvert

Pow er
(Fvert)

0
0

10

20

30
40
50
Free Span (m)

60

70

80

a) Steel box-girders

Freq (Hz)

10

-1,29

y = 232,61x
2
R = 0,4747

8
6

Transv
Long
Vert

Power
(Vert)

2
0
15

20

25
Free Span (m)

30

35

b) RC beams
10

-0,1117

y = 5,5271x

Freq (Hz)

Transv

R = 0,0055

Long

Vert

Pow er
(Vert)

2
0

20

30

Free Span (m)

40

50

c) Truss structures
Figure 3. Frequencies of 1st mode (in three directions) as function of free span: a) for steel box-girders pedestrian structures; b) for RC structures; and c) for Truss structures and others.

3 CHARACTERIZATION OF PEDESTRIAN LOADING AND MEASURING VIBRATION.


The dynamic loading in pedestrian bridges is essentially due to the passage of persons alone, in
groups, randomly walking, jogging or combination of all previous cases. Also, sudden loads
provoked by jumps, fall of objects or rhythm action may arise. Sometimes the passage of bicycles or motorbikes may be observed. The lock in effect is another resonant effect induced by
the bridge itself which influences the walking pattern, as it happen with Millennium Bridge in
London. We will concentrate only in the passage of a single person walking or jogging at normal speeds.
3.1 Walking pattern
There are two levels to be considered in the definition of the walking loading. The first one attends to the frequency of movement, resulting from a speed of 0.5 m/s to 0.8 m/s with a step
size not exceeding 1.9 m (Table 1, from Bachmann, 2002).
Table 1. Frequency range for different patterns of movement.
Slow
Normal
Fast
Walk
1,4 1,7
1,7 2,2
2,2 2,4
Run
1,9 2,2
2,2 2,7
2,7 3,3
Jump
1,3 1,9
1,9 3,0
3,0 3,4

Total
1,4 2,4
1,9 3,3
1,3 3,4

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The second is related to the contact form of the foot with the deck, with three components,
the vertical and two horizontal. This contact form depends on the pattern of type of movement
in consideration, Figure 4 (Vinagre, 1989).
These functions were programmed in such a way they can be used with standard dynamic
analysis software (see Figure 5 for the vertical loading). For the longitudinal direction the intensity of loading is 50% of vertical while in the transverse direction is between 3 and 10%, both
with a frequency half of the vertical frequency (Wilftord, 2002 and Briseghella et al., 2002).
These patterns are also observed in the Data-base that was created by Oliveira (2004) and augmented in recent years.

Figure 4. Force-time typical diagram for in different


movements (Vinagre, 1989)

Figure 5. Variation in time-space imposed by the


walking movement

3.2 In-situ experiments and data treatment


In-situ expedite experiments were of two types, with measurements with a single 3-D accelerometric transducer located at mid-span and at quarter-span:
Measurements for noise vibration produced by car traffic passing underneath, for mode
identification.
Measurements for a set of typified (so-called standard) tests with the passage of pedestrians at different velocities: (a) one person slow walking; (b) one person fast walking; (c)
slow jogging; (d) fast jogging; (e) forced vibration caused by the movement of on person in resonance conditions; and impulsive action derived from jumping.
Data treatment consisted in analyzing peak acceleration values, predominant frequencies of vibrations in the three orthogonal directions through FFT techniques and damping from amplitude
decay in a few cases. A cross interpretation of results, together with the examination of analytical modes led to the identification of first modal frequencies in the three directions of space. All
these values were transported to the Data-base, from which Figures 1 and 2 were drawn.
4 CODE PROVISIONS
4.1 Description of selected structures
Dynamic criteria for performance of pedestrian bridges are essentially two, based on disconfort
and resonance: (i) Peak acceleration values in the vertical and horizontal directions should not
surpass certain limits for given load patterns and (ii) fundamental frequencies should be outside
the so-called interval of critical frequencies. There are several international recommendations
practiced in various countries such as AASHTO, EN 1990, 2003, DIN-ENV, BS 5400, SIANorm, RXP-95, OHBDC, 1983 or the Japanese Footbridge Design Code, 1979. If the criterion
is based on the amplitude value, these recommendations fix values quite different from one another (Schlaich, 2002), as the case of a peak acceleration that should be below, say 7%g in ver-

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tical and 1-2%g in horizontal, or as a function of bridge frequency, Figure 6 a). If the criterion is
separation of resonant conditions (Stoyanoff, 2002), the recommendations are as shown in Figure 6 b).

a)
b)
Figure 6. a) Allowable vertical accelerations as function of frequency of vertical mode (Stoyanoff, et al.,
2002); b) frequencies to be avoided (Bachmann, 2002 and Briseghella et al., 2002).

5 DYNAMIC MODELING
5.1 Steel box-girder
This structure, with 2.0 m wide and spanning 25.5 m at a height of 5.2 m, has a steel box-girder
deck supported in two cylindrical partially hollow columns and connected to 2 adjacent stairways, one at each side of the deck (Figure 7). The main geometric characteristics of deck cross
section are the trapezoidal shape with 65 cm height and the columns with =29.5 cm and thickness=1.4 cm, filled up with concrete almost to the top.

a)

b)

Figure 7. Steel structure under study: a) analytical model; b) view of column, deck and stairway.

The analytical model of this pedestrian bridge, including the stairways, was made with
SAP2000, using both beam and plate elements (Figure 7). In Table 2 a comparison of frequencies between the analytical and the measured values is made. With the exception of torsion
modes (which require the use of more than one instrument), the agreement is very good, also for
higher frequency modes.
Table 2. Comparison of frequencies from in-situ measurements and analytical model
Frequency
Measurements in situ
Analytical Model
Longitudinal
2,54 Hz
2,55 Hz
Vertical
3,42 a 3,52 Hz
3,52 Hz
Torsion about x
?
5,27 Hz
Torsion about z
?
5,74 Hz
Transversal
6,74 a 6,84 Hz
6,38 Hz

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This structure was also subjected to a set of experimental testing to determine the peak amplitude of motion (amax) for different situations as defined in Table 1. Table3 presents the results for
the three orthogonal directions and marks the values above the recommended limits according to
several Codes. It is clear that in many instances the limits of discomfort are widely exceeded.
Table 3. Peak acceleration amplitudes for different tests. In bold are marked the values of vertical accelerations exceeding the less stringent limit (93,8mg); in italic the most stringent limit (66,7mg); in italic the
code values for horizontal (20mg, EN 1990)
amax (mg)
Vertical Longitudinal
Transversal
18,9
2,7
3,8
1 Person* walk at 1,8 Hz
29,1
5,2
6,1
1 Person walk at 2,2 Hz
38,2
20,2
12,1
1 Person jogging at 2,5 Hz
251,3
16,5
21,4
1 Person jogging at f=3,3 Hz
252,6
12,5
24,5
1 Person jogging at f=3,7 Hz
26,3
6,4
5,8
2 Person walk at f=1,7 Hz
38,3
25,3
7,0
2 Person walk at f=2,1 Hz
74,4
28,9
19,0
2 Person jogging at f=2,25 Hz
71,5
29,1
14,1
3 Person walk at f=2,1 Hz
16,3
6,2
10,3
7 or 8 kids (30 to 40 kg) slow walk
6,8
0,9
2,6
Free vibration
198,1
21,1
83,4
Jump
27,9
3,2
15,5
Forced vibration in transversal direction
39,8
3,8
17,0
Impulse in transversal direction
239,2
11,7
16,1
Forced vibration in vertical direction
* 74 kg

Figure 8 tests the feasibility of the model to reproduce the walking of a person at different
speeds, by comparing the peak acceleration amplitudes obtained in the model with the measurement in-situ. Even though difficulties arise in controlling the experimental testing (correct speed,
frequency of walking), results show a very good agreement with the analytical model. These nice
results are not so good for the longitudinal and transversal directions due probably to the difficulty
in reproducing the pedestrian loading in those directions.
450

400

350

avert (mg)

300

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150

100

50

0
1,8

2,2

2,4

2,6

2,8

3,2

3,4

3,6

3,8

f(Hz)

SAP2000

medies

Fronteira entre os movimentos "andar" e "correr"

Figure 8. Comparison of amplitudes at mid-span (vertical acceleration) from in-situ measurements and analytical model: one person walking at various speeds. (Steel box-girder)

5.2 RC structure
This structure spans 25.6 m at a height of approximately 5-6 m with 2.0 m wide, Figure 9. The
deck, formed by two pre-cast and prestressed I beams, h=1.23 m, is supported by two RC columns. Between the columns and the beams there are neoprene pads. The pavement is made of
RC plates, thickness 13 cm, supported on the lower flanges (Figure 9 b). The columns are of

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rectangular cross-section with variable dimensions (Figure 9) having 1.400.45 m at the base
and 0.70.45 m at the top just below the opening up for the support of the deck.
Concrete is a B45.1 for the beams and B30.1 for the pre-cast elements (plates, columns and
stairways). Stairways run perpendicular to the bridge axis and are supported in square columns
at third heights.

a)
b)
c)
Figure 9. RC structure under study: a) analytical model; b) deck cross-section; c) view of column, deck and
stairway.

Similarly to what was done for the steel structure, we compare in Tables 4 and 5 analytical with
in-situ measurements for mode frequencies and for peak acceleration amplitudes. Figure 10 presents the comparison for walking situations.
From the analysis of Tables 4 and 5 and Figure 10 we can say that the analytical model reproduces quite well the measurements in-situ for both the frequencies and pedestrian loading. Comparing the RC structure with the Steel structure we see that the former is much more rigid with
peak values almost half to one third below the later, depending on the direction considered.
Table 4. Comparison of frequencies from in-situ measurements and analytical model
Mode direction
Measurements in situ
Analytical Model
Longitudinal
2,77 Hz
2,77 Hz
Vertical
3,79 Hz
3,34 Hz
Transversal
3,73 Hz
3,73 Hz
Torsion about z
?
5,71 Hz
Torsion about x
7,91 Hz
8,80 Hz
Table 5. Peak amplitudes for different tests. In italic are marked in the values exceeding the code limits
for horizontal vibration (20mg, EN-1990)
amx (mg)
Vertical
Longitudinal
Transversal
1 Person* walk at 2,0Hz
7,3
1,7
2,9
1 Person* walk at 2,2Hz
10,1
1,8
3,1
1 Person* walk at 2,5Hz
8,3
4,9
8,0
1 Person* walk at 2,6Hz
11,6
12,2
13,5
1 Person* walk at 3,0Hz
15,5
7,8
15,8
1 Person* walk at 3,7Hz
32,7
11,8
25,4
2 Jumps at mid-span
61,1
34,2
90,2
Impulse in Transversal direction
8,5
5,2
15,6
* 74 kg

6 SEISMIC BEHAVIOR
Both structures were subjected to a seismic load defined by the Portuguese code of actions (RSA,
1983). For the steel structure no problem was identified. But for the RC it was observed that the
critical zones were the base of columns and the connections beam-column. For the first zone the

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collapse limit state surpasses in approximately 20% the Code values while preliminary results for
the neoprene distortion the values are slightly below the admissible limits.
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70

60

avertical (mg)

50

40

30

20

10

0
1,8

2,2

2,4

2,6

2,8

3,2

3,4

3,6

3,8

f(Hz)

SAP2000

medies

Fronteira entre os movimentos "andar" e "correr"

Figure 10. Comparison of amplitudes at mid-span (vertical acceleration) from in-situ measurements and analytical model: one person walking at various speeds. (RC structure)

7 INFLUENCE OF POSITION OF STAIRWAYS


The position of the stairways plays an important role in the dynamic behavior of these structures.
An exercise was made for the steel structure, positioning the stairways in different locations in relation to the axis of the deck (Figure 11).

a)
b)
Figure 11. Sketch of possible location of stairways.

c)

d)

Several tests were made in order to understand the influence of the position of the stairways
in the main frequencies as well as in the peak amplitude of vibration with the passage of a single
person at different speeds. Table 6 presents the variations of predominant deck frequencies in
function of position of stairways.
Just looking at the vertical direction, changes in frequency values are already quite important, but the transversal are even more critical as it could be anticipated. Important differences
are also observed for the peak amplitudes, as can be seen in Figure 12.
As observed in the Figure 12, amplitudes at resonance are similar but peak at different frequencies. The situation is more critical for the transversal and longitudinal directions of vibrations.
8 CONCLUSIONS AND FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
From the Data-base on pedestrian bridges in Portugal, which were classified into different typologies, two more representative types were selected for a detailed analysis for pedestrian dynamic
loadings and for seismic actions. The first type was a steel box-girder and the second a RC prefabricated structure made of 2-I girder beams with small plates filling the deck. These two structures
were subjected to expedite in-situ campaign for measuring vibration parameters under several pedestrian loading, mainly the modal frequencies, damping and amplitude of motion. Analytical lin-

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ear modeling was developed with great detail including all resisting elements such as stairways
and deck lateral guards and results compared with values obtained experimentally.
Table 6. Influence of stairways position on the frequencies of deck vibration.
Stairway location
Right end
Right end
Left end
Longitudinal
Transversal
Longitudinal
FT = 2,28Hz
FT = 2,63 Hz
Ftorsion.z = 2,92 Hz
FV = 3,24 Hz
FV = 3,04 Hz
FL = 3,36 Hz
FL = 3,41Hz
Ftorsion.z = 3,44 Hz
Ftorsion.x = 5,10Hz
Ftorsion.x = 5,40 Hz
Transversal
FL = 2,28 Hz
Ftorsion.x = 3,31 Hz
FV = 3,47 Hz
Ftorsion.z = 3,59 Hz
FT = 5,31 Hz
500
450
400
350

avertical (mg)

300
250
200
150
100
50
0
1,8

2,2

2,4

2,6

2,8

3,2

3,4

3,6

3,8

f(Hz)

Longitudinal-Longitudinal

Transversal-Longitudinal

Transversal-Transversal

Figure 12. Comparison of peak amplitudes for 1-person walking at different speeds for three case of stairway position for vertical vibration.

As far as results are concerned, one can say that the modeling reproduces with great accuracy
the frequencies of the several modes. We should say, however, that the good matching was not
achieved in first hand. The simplifications introduced in the model of the first trials were too severe and had to be revised in order to attain the above mentioned matching. In relation to amplitudes, the results are not always so good especially for the RC structure. The difficulties in controlling with accuracy the experimental conditions, in what concerns the frequency of the
excitation and the intensity of the pedestrian steps are the main reasons for the deviations observed
between the analytical and the experimental results.
The localization and type of the stairways influences drastically the frequencies and modal
shapes of the structures and, consequently, the vibration levels.
In relation to the amplitude levels of vibration of the steel structure, the measured peak acceleration values are well above the limits defined in the international recommendations, especially
for the case of jogging. This aspect reconfirms the idea already stated in previous studies
(Oliveira, 2004) that the majority of the pedestrian bridges in Portugal and, in particular, in the
region of Lisbon, suffer of excessive amplitude of vibration. However, they do not represent any
danger for the seismic code action.
For the RC structure the situation is reversed. In relation to amplitude of vibration for pedestrian loading the levels are well contained within the limits of the international recommendations, causing a better sensation of comfort and structural safety, but, on the other hand, they do
not comply with the seismic code, surpassing sometimes in 20% (footings of columns) the code
limits.
As a final remark, we should say that: (i) the dynamic behavior of pedestrian bridges, as the
ones analyzed, is kept in the linear range under current loading; (ii) and standard structural
analysis programs, accepting the use of time histories at different points, proved to be in good
condition to reproduce the experimental observations.

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8.1 Future work


Several topics should be developed in the continuation and can be enumerated as follows:
Develop dissipation systems to damp out the large amplitudes of vibration observed in steel
structures;
Develop reinforcing techniques to apply to RC structures in order to comply them with
code requirements;
Develop standard experimental techniques for routine testing of pedestrian bridges;
Study in detail a few more structural types in order to check for special fragilities;
Estimate seismic vulnerability functions for these structures as their collapse over main
road access lines may be critical in case of earthquake emergency.
9 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This paper was partially supported by the Programa Pluri-Anual of Fundao para a Cincia e
a Tecnologia (FCT).
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BS-5400. 1978. British Standards Institution. Steel, Concrete and Composite Bridges: Specification for
Loads. BSI, BS 5400, Part 2, Apendix C.
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