Bridge decks are the most critical element of the highway infrastructure for maintaining it in the state of good repair. Steel orthotropic bridge decks (SOBD) have the potential for improving durability and extending service life of highway bridges. Steel orthotropic bridge decks are a stiffened steel plate deck system that is integral with the primary floor framing of the bridge superstructure. The deck plate for SOBD are stiffened by elements having open or close sections. Accordingly, the orthotropic decks are classified respectively as open rib decks (ORD) and close rib decks (CRD). Close rib decks are more common in modern construction, however, they are fabrication intensive and not always economical, particularly for routine short and medium span bridges. Balanced ORD designs can be more cost-effective, with less demanding fabrication and minor increase in weight. This research aims at developing a cost-effective standard open rib SOBD demonstrating similar performance as a close rib deck that can be economically fabricated domestically and would promote increased use of this deck system particularly for routine short and medium span highway structures that constitute majority of the highway bridges.
The research has three components: (1) an extensive literature review for collecting information about typical design of ORD and their performance; (2) a computational study employing 3D Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of stresses in simulated ORD subjected to AASHTO loading for developing a cost-effective design; and (3) experimental evaluation of a prototype full size ORD in the laboratory including both both static and fatigue testing. In view of the potential access limitation to campus facilities due to COVID-19, there are opportunities for one or two student(s) to work on items (1) and (2) and possibly item (3). Depending on the interest of the student, the research work can be continued during the academic year 2021-22.
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