Numerical investigation of the effects of pedestrian barriers on aeroelastic stability of a proposed footbridge

I. J. Taylor, M. Vezza, I Salisbury

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A numerical investigation into the aerodynamic characteristics and aeroelastic stability of a proposed footbridge across a motorway in the north of England has been undertaken. The longer than usual span, along with the unusual nature of the pedestrian barriers, indicated that the deck configuration was likely to be beyond the reliable limits of the British design code BD 49/01. In particular, the investigation focussed on the susceptibility of the bridge due to flutter, and to assess if the design wind speeds could be met satisfactorily. The calculations were performed using the discrete vortex method, DIVEX, developed at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. DIVEX has been successfully validated on a wide range of problems, including the aeroelastic response of bridge deck sections. The proposed deck configuration, which incorporated a pedestrian barrier comprised of angled flat plates, was found to be unstable at low wind speeds with the plates having a strong turning effect on the flow at the leading edge of the deck. DIVEX was used to assess a number of alternative design options, investigating the stability with respect to flutter for each configuration. Reducing the number of flat plates and their angle to the deck lessened the effect of the barrier on the overall aerodynamic characteristics and increased the stability of the bridge to an acceptable level, with the critical flutter speed in excess of the specified design speed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2418-2437
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • flutter
  • bridge
  • vortex Method
  • CFD
  • pedestrian barrier
  • aerodynamic characteristics
  • aeroelastic stability
  • critical flutter speed


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