Model Validation for a Steel Deck Truss Bridge over the New River

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Virginia Tech

This thesis presents the methods utilized to model a steel deck truss bridge over the New River in Hillsville, Virginia. These methods were evaluated by comparing analytical results with data recorded from 14 members during live load testing. The research presented herein is part of a larger endeavor to understand the structural behavior and collapse mechanism of the erstwhile I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN. Objectives accomplished toward this end include investigation of lacing effects on built up member strain detection, live load testing of a steel truss bridge, and evaluating modeling techniques in comparison to recorded data.

Before any live load testing could be performed, it was necessary to confirm an acceptable strain gage layout for measuring member strains. The effect of riveted lacing in built-up members was investigated by constructing a two-thirds mockup of a typical bridge member. The mockup was then instrumented with strain gages and subjected to known strains in order to determine the most effective strain gage arrangement. Testing analysis concluded that for a built up member consisting of laced channels, one strain gage installed on the middle of the extreme fiber of each channel's flanges was sufficient. Thus, laced members on the bridge were mounted with four strain gages each.

Data from live loads were obtained by loading two trucks to 25 tons each. Trucks were positioned at eight locations on the bridge in four different relative truck positions. Data were recorded continuously and reduced to member forces for model validation comparisons. Deflections at selected truss nodes were also recorded for model validation purposes.

The model validation process began by developing four simple truss models, each reflecting different expected restraint conditions, in the hopes of bracketing data from recorded results. Models were refined to frames, and then frames including floor beams and stringers for greater accuracy. The final, most accurate model was selected and used for a failure analysis. This model showed where the minimum amount of load could be applied in order to learn about the bridge's failure behavior, for a test to be conducted at a later time.

model validation, lacing of built-up members, steel deck truss, sensitivity analysis