This article shows how research to estimate the true load-carrying capacity of existing structures more accurately can be highly cost-effective by avoiding unnecessary strengthening or reconstruction and provide other benefits. Several consulting engineers have been working with bridge owners to develop new approaches, or modify existing design techniques, to provide powerful assessment tools. Two innovative methods have been especially successful in assessing concrete bridges: (1) the use of equations similar to the Wood Armer equations for designing reinforced concrete slabs; and (2) the use of plastic yield line analysis, which can provide significantly better assessment results than with elastic methods. The complex calculations of these methods have been incorporated in the RASSP and COBRAS computer programs, respectively. The benefit of using both RASSP and COBRAS was demonstrated in the assessment of Winterbourne Lane Bridge, a three-span reinforced concrete bridge, with a 15 degree skew, that carries the M4 over an urban road north of Bristol. Initial finite element analysis was inconclusive, but the new techniques showed that the bridge had sufficient capacity for full 40t assessment highway loading.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Thomas Telford Limited

    London,   United Kingdom 
  • Authors:
    • DENTON, S
  • Publication Date: 1995-11


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00719941
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Apr 26 1996 12:00AM