Vulnerability assessment of bridges subjected to extreme cyclonic events


Over the past few years, Queensland in Australia has suffered from a number of severe tropical cyclones, the most recent one being Marcia, which took place in 2015. Damage bill of Cyclone Marcia exceeded $50 million which included the cost of repairing a number of damaged road structures. Failure of road structures such as bridges isolates communities from accessing essential services and commodities. This necessitated a methodical approach to evaluate the failure of bridges to improve their resilience and provide base knowledge for developing emergency maintenance response. Although there are several methods available to evaluate the vulnerability of bridges, fault tree analysis (FTA) was selected in this study by considering its positive attributes over the other methods. FTA was used to estimate the probabilities of failure of main components (superstructure and substructure) and elements of timber and concrete bridges. Secondary data (level 1 and level 2 bridge inspection reports from Transport Main Roads in Rockhampton) before and after the Cyclone Marcia were used in conjunction with expert advice to construct fault trees for both timber and concrete bridges. Potential failure mechanisms were observed, and the degree of susceptibility of main components of timber and concrete bridges to cyclonic events was evaluated. This research was based on selected bridges under specific cyclone in one region, which is a limitation of the study. Few other case study bridges subjected to cyclonic events can be used to strengthen the understanding of the complete dynamics of the bridge failure under these extreme events.

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The authors are very grateful to Transport Main Roads in Rockhampton, Australia, for providing the inspection reports for bridges and expert advice during the course of this study. The support of the Commonwealth of Australia through the Cooperative Research Centre program is acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Weena Lokuge.

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Pathiranage, T., Lokuge, W. Vulnerability assessment of bridges subjected to extreme cyclonic events. Nat Hazards 102, 401–417 (2020).

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  • Cyclone
  • Bridge failure
  • Fault tree analysis
  • Vulnerability
  • Preventive maintenance