Appropriate seismic assessment of reinforced concrete bridges is an important challenge in structural engineering in consideration of the number and relevance of bridges built without applying advanced codes of practice and of the strategic role of transportation networks in modern economy. This paper focuses on some relevant aspects of the damage development and collapse modes of hollow piers, as commonly designed in the past. The following aspects have been considered: absence of confinement, inadequate shear strength, shifting of the critical section, insufficient length of lap splices. A series of experimental tests has been designed and performed; the capacity of predicting appropriate results of formulations recommended in codes of practice or proposed in recent research documents has been checked comparing experimental and analytical results.
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