Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Civil engineering

Publication Details

Bridge & Infrastructure Research in Ireland, Cork


Accurate traffic loading models based on measured weigh-in-motion (WIM) data are essential for the accurate assessment of existing bridges. Much work has been published on the Monte Carlo simulation of single lanes of heavy vehicle traffic, and this can easily be extended to model the loading on bridges with two streams of traffic in opposing directions. However, a typical highway bridge will have multiple lanes in the same direction, and various types of correlation are evident in measured traffic, such as groups of very heavy vehicles travelling together and heavy vehicles being overtaken by lighter ones. These traffic patterns affect the probability and magnitude of “multiple presence” loading events on bridges, and are significant for maximum lifetime.

This paper analyses traffic patterns using multi-lane WIM data collected at four European sites. It describes an approach to the Monte Carlo simulation of this traffic which seeks to replicate the observed patterns of vehicle weights, vehicle gaps and speeds by applying variable bandwidth kernel density estimators to empirical traffic patterns. This allows the observed correlation structure to be accurately simulated but also allows for unobserved patterns to be simulated. The process has been optimised so as to make it possible to simulate traffic loading on bridges over periods of 1,000 years or more, and this removes much of the variability associated with estimating characteristic maximum load effects. The results show that the patterns of correlation in the observed traffic have a small but significant effect on bridge loading.