The Yelcho Bridge is the only road cable-stayed bridge that has been built in Chile. The bridge is located in the mouth of the Yelcho Lake and it ensures the continuity of Route 7 (called Carretera Austral) in the Palena Province, Los Lagos Region, being a strategic point for the network road of Chile.
The bridge, in service since 1990, has a total length of 250 m with a central span of 150 m and two lateral spans of 50 m each one.
No maintenance programs have been conducted on the bridge since it became operational (27 years). However, it is estimated that the increase in its live load demand is causing a decrease in resistance due to fatigue.
The present paper provides studies conducted by the Roads Department, in order to structurally analyze the Bridge and assess its behavior related to the current design loads, including a study of its current state of stress, and visual inspections carried out.
The procedures of the study will be the basis for a maintenance plan proposal for cable-stayed bridges in Chile. The goal is to deliver a procedure to improve the management and maintenance of bridges, through preventive inspections focused on the detection of the main pathologies, and repair and reinforcement programs for this bridge typology.
The results of these activities will be included in the new version of the Road Manual–a code that provides guidelines for the design, construction and maintenance of bridges in Chile–as part of the philosophy of the life cycle of the structure.