Roebling suspension bridge. I: Finite-element model and free vibration response

Wei Xin Ren, George E. Blandford, Issam E. Harik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


This first part of a two-part paper on the John A. Roebling suspension bridge (1867) across the Ohio River is an analytical investigation, whereas Part II focuses on the experimental investigation of the bridge. The primary objectives of the investigation are to assess the bridge's load-carrying capacity and compare this capacity with current standards of safety. Dynamics-based evaluation is used, which requires combining finite-element bridge analysis and field testing. A 3D finite-element model is developed to represent the bridge and to establish its deformed equilibrium configuration due to dead loading. Starting from the deformed configuration, a modal analysis is performed to provide the frequencies and mode shapes. Transverse vibration modes dominate the low-frequency response. It is demonstrated that cable stress stiffening plays an important role in both the static and dynamic responses of the bridge. Inclusion of large deflection behavior is shown to have a limited effect on the member forces and bridge deflections. Parametric studies are performed using the developed finite-element model. The outcome of the investigation is to provide structural information that will assist in the preservation of the historic John A. Roebling suspension bridge, though the developed methodology could be applied to a wide range of cable-supported bridges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bridge Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Bridges, suspension
  • Dead load
  • Equilibrium
  • Finite element method
  • Model analysis
  • Natural frequency
  • Three-dimensional models
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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