There are many nondestructive test methods for the detailed condition evaluation of existing bridges. However, on detection of damage or deterioration, it may be possible only to make a subjective or qualitative judgement on safety. Resulting from research aimed at providing quantitative measures of bridge condition and fitness for purpose, this paper presents a practical method for evaluating the load-carrying capacity of damaged reinforced concrete (RC) beam structures based on dynamic testing and finite-element (FE) model updating. The distribution of the second moment of the cross section along an RC beam structure that had been loaded until failure was identified using FE model updating. Based on the identified second moment of cross section, the effective steel ratio and the ultimate moment of the damaged structure were estimated, leading to an estimate of load-carrying capacity. The paper describes a laboratory study using techniques that can be applied to prototype structures.
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