Equivalent barge and flotilla impact forces on bridge piers

Peng Yuan, Issam E. Harik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Bridge piers located in navigable inland waterways are designed to resist impact forces from barges and flotillas in addition to other design considerations (e.g., scour dead, live loads, etc.). The primary design tool for estimating these forces is the AASHTO Guide Specification that provides a simple hand calculation method to determine an "equivalent impact force." The simplicity comes at a cost of excluding the effect of the pier shape, impact duration, and interaction between barges in a flotilla. The objective of this paper is to present a hand calculation method for determining barge or flotilla impact forces on bridge piers. The primary advantage of this approach lies in its incorporation of pier geometry, interaction between barges, and impact duration. The proposed method is derived from the conduct of hundreds of finite-element dynamic simulations of jumbo hopper (JH) barges and flotillas, made up of JH barges, impacting bridge piers. Results are presented and compared with those derived from the AASHTO method and detailed finite-element modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-532
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bridge Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Barge
  • Bridge
  • Finite-element method
  • Flotilla
  • Hand calculation
  • Impact load
  • Pier
  • Simulation
  • Time history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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