PITA Fiscal Year 2013 Projects

Development Of Cost-Effective Rib-To-Deck Plate Welded Connections For Orthotropic Decks

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sougata Roy, ATLSS Engineering Research Center
PA Industry: High Steel Structures Inc.

This collaborative research project between Lehigh University and High Steel Structures will investigate economic fabrication and inspection of rib-to-deck plate welded connections for cost-effective fatigue resistant orthotropic decks. In recent years interest has been generated among bridge engineering community in the United States in using prefabricated modular orthotropic steel bridge decks for rapid and economic construction of short and medium span bridges. If adequately designed and properly fabricated, the orthotropic deck is the only system likely to provide a service life exceeding 100 years with minimum maintenance. One of the major challenges to increased implementation of orthotropic bridge decks in the United States is the relatively high initial cost owing to labor intensive fabrication, which is mandated to achieve the desired fatigue resistance of the various welded connections in the deck. As a result nearly all the recent orthotropic decks in the United States were fabricated abroad producing mixed experience. Research is needed for developing cost-effective orthotropic decks employing economic fabrication and advanced non-destructive evaluation that are amenable to automation for competitive domestic fabrication and would provide the desired fatigue performance in-service. As part of this project fatigue performance of several rib-to-deck plate connections fabricated using two different welding processes and with varied bevels, root openings and fit-ups will be evaluated by full-scale testing. The weld penetration will be evaluated by Phase Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) during fabrication, and will be destructively evaluated after fatigue testing to corroborate the findings. The research is expected to develop cost-effective prefabricated “of-the-shelf” orthotropic decks for short and medium span highway bridges, provide a Pennsylvania company with a global competitive edge and growth potential, and directly impact the state’s economic growth in terms of creating new jobs, increased revenue, investment for further technology development, and retention of quality educated labor in the state.