Experimental damage tests on a historic railway bridge


The company VCE provided the Unit of Applied Mechanics with a small historic railway bridge for research purposes. In spring 2012 damage tests will be carried out in collaboration with the Technical Laboratory for Research and Testing (TVFA, University of Innsbruck) and the Unit for Steel Construction and Mixed Building Technology (University of Innsbruck), and the Unit of Structural Mechanics and Dynamics (Vienna University of Technology).

Four bearings were constructed at the lot of the laboratory in summer and autumn 2011, and subsequently the bridge (approx. 10x5m) was transported from Italy to Innsbruck in November 2011. For transport the bridge was cut into two parts in longitudinal direction, but it will be assembled again with screws and butt straps.

The focus of the damage tests will be on structural response measurements under ambient excitation to simulate a real bridge-monitoring scenario with unknown traffic and wind conditions. At predefined locations the bridge will be damaged step by step, measuring the dynamic response at each step to identify structural parameters (output-only identification algorithms), such as natural frequencies and mode shapes. The damage location and damage extend is supposed to be identified without initial knowledge about the actual damage with enhanced system identification methodologies.