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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-039    Date:  January 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-039
Date: January 2016


FHWA Research And Technology Evaluation: Gusset Plates Final Report

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Research and Technology Program strives to ensure transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness of RD&T for all stakeholders.

This report examines how FHWA’s investment in gusset plate research has affected the design and rating of gusset plates.

This report should be of interest to engineers, practitioners, researchers, and decision makers involved with the research, design, performance, and management of bridges.

Michael Trentacoste
Associate Administrator
Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T)


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

FHWA Research and Technology Evaluation: Gusset Plates Final

5. Report Date

January 2016

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Sharon Chan Edmiston, Clark Merrefield, Alexandra Oster, Joseph
Sposato, and Leslie Stahl

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142-1093

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

John Moulden is the Research and Technology Program Manager and the contracting office representative for Contract DTFH for this program summary.

16. Abstract

On August 1, 2007, the I–35W Mississippi River Bridge (I–35W Bridge) in Minneapolis, MN, collapsed. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) turned to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to provide technical expertise during their investigation. In response, NTSB issued recommendations to FHWA and the American Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to prevent similar catastrophic bridge failures. An FHWA research project to assess the performance and design of steel gusset plate connections—referred to in this report as the Gusset Plate Project—facilitated actions that addressed one of the final NTSB recommendations. The main goal of the project was to improve bridge safety by providing research and guidance on gusset plates used to connect main load carrying members. As part of the FHWA Research and Technology (R&T) program evaluation, FHWA decided to evaluate the Gusset Plate Project to better understand how FHWA’s investment in gusset plate research has affected the design and rating of gusset plates. This report documents the findings of a summative evaluation of the Gusset Plate Project. The report focuses on outcomes resulting from collaboration between FHWA and NTSB.

17. Key Words

Research, Technology, Evaluation, Gusset Plates

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized




Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101