Damping ratios associated with non-structural elements play an important role in mitigating the pedestrian-induced vibrations of slender footbridges. In particular, this paper analyses the effect of vinyl flooring on the modal parameters of steel footbridges. Motivated by the unexpected high experimental damping ratios of the first vibration modes of a real footbridge, whose deck was covered by a vinyl flooring, this paper aims at assessing more accurately the experimental damping ratios generated by this non-structural element on steel footbridges. For this purpose, a laboratory footbridge was built and vinyl flooring was installed on it. Its numerical and experimental modal parameters without and with the vinyl flooring were determined. The operational modal analysis method was used to estimate experimentally the modal parameters of the structure. The damping ratios associated with the vinyl flooring were obtained via the substraction between the experimental damping ratios of the laboratory footbridge with and without the vinyl flooring. An average increase of the damping ratios of 2.069% was observed due to the vinyl flooring installed. According to this result, this type of pavement may be a useful tool to significantly increase the damping ratios of steel footbridges in order to reduce pedestrian-induced vibrations.
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