Assessment of Shear Strength for Existing Bridges with Low Amounts of Shear Reinforcement
Design of concrete girder bridges has significantly evolved during the last decades. This has been particularly relevant with respect to shear design, motivated by changes in actions and design models. As a consequence, assessing the shear strength of existing bridges leads in many cases to unsatisfactory safety levels. Furthermore, many existing bridges do not comply with current code regulations with respect to minimum amounts of shear reinforcement. This situation can lead to expensive retrofitting and strengthening of a significant number of existing bridges. The assessment of the shear strength of these bridges has thus become a significant task for structural engineers. Design codes are not always appropriate for assessing the strength of existing bridges. They propose safe models providing sufficient accuracy for design of a wide number of structures. However, these models do not account for some particularities of prestresses bridges and neglect a number of shear-transfer actions that can be relevant for their strength. This is typically the case of shear carried by the inclination of the compression chord, the increase of the stress in the tendons or the effective strength of concrete in the web of cracked prestressed girders. Accounting for more realistic approaches for these parameters may significantly increase the estimated strength of a structure with respect to code provisions, avoiding in many cases unnecessary retrofitting or strengthening. In this paper, the results of a tests campaign carried out at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne on 10 prestressed concrete girders (10 meters long, 0.78 m high) are outlined. The specimens were provided with very low amounts of shear reinforcement and some of them present defective stirrup anchorage to simulate realistic conditions of existing structures. The experimental results are discussed with reference to the stress field method where the role of the different shear-transfer actions is investigated and compared to current code provisions.