Reliability assessment of existing reinforced concrete bridges and viaducts through proof load testing

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In the assessment of existing infrastructure performing only a desk study is often not sufficient to determine the structural reliability of a bridge or viaduct. For concrete structures gathering field data by performing a proof load test offers detailed information about the structural performance. However, the relation between the magnitude of the load and the structural reliability is not immediately clear. In the present study the challenges in determining the target load and the uncertainties that require attention are described. An approach is presented that addresses the time-dependent character of the structural reliability, the need for accurate stop-criteria, the knowledge level and spatial uncertainty. It is shown how both past trafic loads and a proof load test may contribute to the proven strength of a structure. The described methodology provides a starting point towards a flexible approach for proof load testing in which structure-speciic information and requirements are considered.