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Project Information
Project ID:   FHWA-PROJ-08-0045
Project Name:   Guidelines for the Load and Resistance Factor Design and Rating of Riveted and Bolted Gusset-Plate Connections for Steel Bridges
Project Status:   Completed
Start Date:  October 1, 2008
End Date:  April 30, 2013
Contact Information
Last Name:  Ocel
First Name:  Justin
Telephone:  202-493-3080
E-mail:  justin.ocel@dot.gov
Office:   Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Team:   Bridge and Foundation Engineering Team [HRDI-40]
Program:   High-Performing Steel Bridge
Laboratory:   Structures Laboratory
Project detail
Roadmap/Focus area(s):   Infrastructure Research and Technology Strategic Plan and Roadmap
Project Description:   Recent failures of gusset plate bridge connections and the current national urgency to properly design and rate gusset truss connection points to the need for further analytical and experimental investigations to verify and/or modify existing procedures, and to provide guidance to the bridge engineers for the proper design and rating of riveted and bolted gusset-plated connections. In addition, the lack of uniformity and best practices in the design and load rating of gusset connections results in confusion, unknown safety hazards, and possibly unnecessary checks. There is a pressing urgency to develop safe guidelines and procedures to help bridge owners design and load rate steel bridge gusset connections. These guidelines must be verified to ensure that connections are not only properly designed and rated but most importantly without imposing unnecessary burdens. The new guidelines are expected to assure the safety of new and existing bridges and simplify design and rating to avoid unfavorable failure modes.
Goals:   The primary objective of this study is to develop guidelines, specifications, and examples for the load and resistance factor design and rating of gusset connections.
Background Information:   This project was created specifically to address one of the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials after the conclusion of the I-35W collapse investigation.
Product Type:   Techbrief
Test Methodology:   The study will entail advanced finite element analyses of varying bridge gusset connection types, configurations, loadings, and failure modes to verify or modify existing procedures, or develop new design and rating procedures; large-scale experimental investigations to validate the findings of the finite element analyses; and based on the analytical and experimental investigations, develop recommendations for optimal connection configurations to maximize the resistance of gusset connections and minimize the possibility of unfavorable failure modes.
Other Information:   The study is jointly sponsored and funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials-sponsored National Cooperative Highway Research Program, which provided $500,000. The Federal Highway Administration covered the balance.
Expected Benefits:   The benefit would be more reliable design and load rating procedures of steel bridge gusset-plated connections founded in targeted experimental and analytical research, rather than extrapolation of data from similar details.
Deliverables:   This report will document the methodology of the entire research project, including all the data, findings, and interpretations of those findings.
FHWA Topics:   Roads and Bridges--Design
TRT Terms:   Infrastructure
Load Factor
Gusset Plates
Steel Bridges
Truss Bridges
FHWA Disciplines:   Design
Subject Areas:   Bridges and other structures
Maintenance and Preservation


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