Seismic Performance of Bridge Column-Pile-Shaft Pin Connections for Application in Accelerated Bridge Construction
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Bridges with integral superstructures are common in high-seismic regions. The superstructure and substructure are connected using rigid connections in these bridges. However, hinge or “pin” connections may be used to connect columns to pile-shafts to reduce the overall force demand in the integral bridges, leading to smaller and more economical foundations. Additionally, prefabrication of structural elements facilitates accelerated bridge construction (ABC), which could improve the quality and economy of project compared to cast-in-place (CIP).The primary objectives of this research were to investigate the seismic performance of three types of bridge bent connections: (1) pipe-pin connections at column-pile shaft joints for CIP and precast constructions (2) rebar-pin connections at column-pile shaft joint for CIP and precast constructions, and (3) pocket connections to develop rigid joints between precast columns and precast pier caps. This research was comprised of experimental and analytical studies.The experimental portion of the study was conducted on a shake table at the Earthquake Engineering Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno including two 1/3.75 scale, two-column bents subjected to seismic loadings. The cap beam in each bent was precast and connected to the columns using pocket details. The pin connections were used to connect the columns to pedestals, which simulated the pile-shafts. The column-pedestal joints were formed using pipe-pins in one bent and rebar-pin in the other bent. The available details of pin connections were modified for utilizing in the bents because the tensile force transfer mechanism and pile-shaft failure modes had not been accounted for in the current practices. A proposed ABC method for pin connections was investigated by constructing one column in each bent as a precast shell filled with self-consolidating concrete (SCC), whereas the other column was CIP. Furthermore, engineered cementitious composite (ECC) was incorporated in one column plastic hinge region of each bent to explore the effects of ECC on the seismic performance of the columns. The shake table experiments confirmed that the proposed design methods meet the safety and performance requirements of the codes under seismic loadings. The analytical studies consisted of: (1) simple stick models for the pin connections that were developed for the bents as design tools, (2) nonlinear finite element (FE) models for the pin connections in OpenSEES that can be utilized for global analysis of bridges with pin connections, and (3) elaborate nonlinear FE models of the bent with pipe-pins using ABAQUS to investigate the microscopic performance and interactions of the components. The analytical models were evaluated based on their correlation with experimental data and were subsequently used in focused parametric studies to address the gaps in the experimental results and provide more insight into the pin behavior under various conditions. Lastly, design procedures and detailing recommendations for column-pile-shaft connections using pipe-pins and rebar-pins were developed and proposed based on the results of the experimental and analytical parametric studies.