Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Alice Alipour


One of the leading causes of bridge failures within the United States is accidental vehicle collisions with the bridge pier. The focus of this research is to analyze the response of reinforced concrete bridge piers when subjected to a vehicle collision. A parametric study is performed to observe the different degrees of shear and flexure failure in a pier with respect to pier diameter, transverse reinforcement spacing and vehicle impact velocity.

The finite element software LS-DYNA was used to conduct the performed work. Material models, contact algorithms and modeling methods were first validated by recreating reinforced concrete beam impact experiments. In addition, an in depth analysis was performed investigating the internal forces generated within the impact beams with respect to differential steel reinforcement layouts. Once the models were calibrated and validated, the reinforced concrete bridge piers were constructed. The Ford F800 reduced vehicle model obtained from the National Crash Analysis Center and the National Transportation Research Center, Inc. was used in the study. The bridge pier collision models were then validated once more by comparing vehicle damage and impact forces with published experimental and numerical research results. In order to ensure stability within the impact simulations, the conservation of energy of the systems were closely monitored.

This study shows that the overall failure mode of the pier was dependent on the pier diameter and the transverse reinforcement ratio governed the extent of localized damage experienced within the pier. The impacting vehicles kinetic energy had the most profound effects on the magnitude of internal forces generated within the pier. A performance-based design approach is proposed which allows a designer to design a bridge pier in a simplistic manner with the use of damage ratios that relate to certain amounts of damage.


Copyright Owner

Steven Joseph AuYeung



File Format


File Size

121 pages