Stop Criteria for Flexure for Proof Load Testing of Reinforced Concrete Structures

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Existing bridges with large uncertainties can be assessed with a proof load test. In a proof load test, a load representative of the factored live load is applied to the bridge at the critical position. If the bridge can carry this load without distress, the proof load test shows experimentally that the bridge fulfills the requirements of the code. Because large loads are applied during proof load tests, the structure or element that is tested needs to be carefully monitored during the test. The monitored structural responses are interpreted in terms of stop criteria. Existing stop criteria for flexure in reinforced concrete can be extended with theoretical considerations. These proposed stop criteria are then verified with experimental results: reinforced concrete beams failing in flexure and tested in the laboratory, a collapse test on an existing reinforced concrete slab bridge that reached flexural distress, and the pilot proof load tests that were carried out in the Netherlands and in which no distress was observed. The tests in which failure was obtained are used to evaluate the margin of safety provided by the proposed stop criteria. The available pilot proof load tests are analyzed to see if the proposed stop criteria are not overly conservative. The result of this comparison is that the stop criteria are never exceeded. Therefore, the proposed stop criteria can be used for proof load tests for the failure mode of bending moment in reinforced concrete structures.