Highway Culvert Performance During Past Earthquakes
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To assess performance of culverts during earthquakes, the authors reviewed reports from six earthquakes, interviewed highway officials in areas shaken by four earthquakes, and conducted field investigations in epicental regions of three earthquakes. Seventeen corrugated metal pipe (CMP), one thermoplastic pipe, five reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), and thirty reinforced concrete box (RCB) structures were specifically evaluated through field inspection and literature review. Five of these culverts (all CMP) were deformed into a dysfunctional condition; nine (three CMP, five RCP and one RCB) required major repairs or replacement; six RCB structures required minor repairs (epoxy of cracks). Thirty-five surveyed culverts suffered inconsequential or no damage. Lack of observed or reported damage to hundreds of additional unsurveyed culverts in strongly shaken areas indicates inconsequential affects to these structures. Primary causes of culvert damage were liquefaction-induced embankment penetration or spreading, slope instability, and fault rupture. Other causes of damage were increased lateral earth pressures and inertial forces generated from thick overlying fills. These findings indicate that culverts generally perform well during earthquakes except in areas affected by foundation failure or subject to large lateral or inertial forces.