Theoretical and computational simulation of the effect of the number of intermediate diaphragms on the live load distribution factors and structural response of a precast girder bridge




Intermediate diaphragms (ID) in bridges with precast girders are intended to improve load distribution among girders. Despite this, their efficacy has been doubted recently due to the complex construction tasks needed to join them to the girders. Accordingly, this work aimed to determine the effect of the number of IDs on the distribution of vertical loads and girders response of a simply supported bridge. Four bridge layouts (0, 1, 2, and 3 IDs) were analyzed using 3D computational grillage models. The load distribution factors from the models were compared to those calculated using the Engesser-Courbon and Fauchart methods to determine the latter’s accuracy in capturing the effect of the number of IDs. Moreover, the girders responses under the live loads in the current Colombian and Brazilian bridge design codes were assessed. The results show that the IDs have a more significant effect on the load distribution and deflection of interior girders than the exterior girders. Additionally, increasing the number of IDs reduced the maximum shear and torque while the bending moment and deflections remained nearly constant.