box girder design

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Cairo - Egypt Department of Structural Engineering

OF BOX-GIRDER BRIDGE DECK

ABSTRACT

In this paper, the analysis of one-cell-box-girder deck using two of the most common

computer modeling techniques is introduced. These methods are: (a) grillage analysis method

and (b) beam analysis method. The results of these different methods are compared to the

results of a loading test on a real bridge. A parametric study is also introduced to study the

effect of many parameters on the structural behavior of this kind of bridge decks.

INTRODUCTION:

Box–girder bridge decks are preferred to beam-and-slab bridge decks for spans

exceeding 30 m because they are more economical in both material contents and formwork, in

addition to their high longitudinal bending stiffness and high torsional stiffness that make this

type of decks better in stability and in load distribution.

There are many structural modeling techniques for the analysis of box-girder bridge

decks. The choice of a certain technique to be used depends on not only the accuracy, but also

the simplicity of this technique.

The simple beam theory has been used widely among design engineers for its

simplicity. In this method, the box girder is modeled by a single beam element that considers

only the longitudinal bending and the St. Venant torsion. The effect of the transversal load

distribution is neglected and the box is considered as a single beam regardless the number of

webs.

If the box-girder has few transversal cross girders (diaphragms), shear flexible grillage

is most appropriate for the analysis of this bridge (1, 2, 3, and 4). In this method, the box

girder is modeled by a grid of beams in both directions as shown in figure (1).

Folded plate analysis provides the most accurate method if the deck has uniform cross

section all-over the span of the bridge (2).

The space frame analysis is another accurate modeling technique that many engineers

like to use.

On the other hand, if the deck has more complicated cross-section and many intermediate

diaphragms, a 3-D finite element model may be used. This model is complicated and does not

provide a practical design values for the practicing engineers.

The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, AASHTO 1996

(5) and the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code, CHBDC2000 (6), have recommended

several method of analysis of the straight box-girder decks. These methods include: finite

element method, finite strip method, folded plate method and grillage analysis.

1

Assistant Professor Department of Civil Eng., Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt.

Figure 1: Grillage for one span twin-cell concrete box-girder deck.

(a)Deck section, (b) Grillage section and (c) Grillage mesh.

A comparison between the most common analysis techniques among the designers, the

beam analysis method and the grillage method is presented in this research to address the

differences in using each of them. A real bridge deck was used for this study. The details of

this bridge are shown in figure (2).

The numerical results were compared to the results of an actual load test performed on the

real bridge mentioned above.

A parametric study is also presented in order to address the structural impact of the

stiffness degradation of the different elements of the box section on the lateral distribution of

the applied vehicle loads.

The sensitivity of the behavior of the deck to the number of the cross girders was

addressed by studying the change in the behavior of the deck due to the change of both the

number and the properties of the cross girders. The deck was solved with one cross girder at

midspan and the stiffness of this cross girder was changed. Then two additional cross girders

were used and the results were compared.

The effect of web inclination on the behavior of the box is also studied and shown.

The bridge under consideration is part of a series of bridges along Rasheed-Al Mahmoudia

link to the International Coastal Ring road at El-Behirah, Egypt. It consists of 22 spans each

of them is 25-meter long and 19-meter wide with an expansion joint along the centerline of

the bridge. An intermediate diaphragm was used to connect the webs as a request of the

owner. The cross section of the deck is a one-cell reinforced concrete box section as shown in

figure2. The characteristic strength of the concrete after 28 days (fcu) is 450 kg/cm2.

Figure 2b: Details of plan at top slab.

transversal direction.

LOADING TEST:

Two 40-ton trucks were located, as shown in

figure3 and picture 1, in positions similar to the

analytical study. The deflections were measured at

midspan and at the quarter points of the two webs

using digital LVDT with accuracy 0.001 mm.

the quarter points for each web using electrical

strain gages type K-YOWA. The readings for both

the deflection and the strain were taken as follows:

Picture (1): loading test

1. Just before loading.

2. Immediately after loading.

3. Every hour after loading, for 4 hours.

4. Right after unloading.

5. Every half-hour after unloading for 2 hours.

Figure 3: Loading test.

ANALYTICAL STUDY:

The bridge deck was analyzed under the effect of two-40 ton trucks loaded as shown in

figure 3. This arrangement of loads was chosen to get the maximum bending moment at mid-

span of web1. The analysis was performed by the computer software SAP90. The bridge deck

was solved as a single frame using the beam analysis method as shown in figure 4.

The bridge deck was solved again by modeling it as a 2-D grillage model. In this model,

the two webs were considered the main longitudinal beams as shown in figure 5. Both slabs

and the intermediate diaphragm were considered as transversal grillage members. References

1, 2 and 3 may be referred to for more details about the grillage modeling.

In the following sections, the different results are summarized.

Figure (5): sectional proportional of grillage members.

(a) Cross section. (b) Cross section of long. grillage members. (c) Cross

section of trans. grillage members.

I.Comparison between the beam analysis model and the grillage model:

Table 1 shows the results of the beam analysis model and the grillage model in addition to the

results of the loading test.

Table 1 Comparison between grillage and beam analysis models

LOADING

BEAM ANALYSIS GRILLAGE

TEST

MAX.DEFLECTION (mm):

LOADED WEB (WEB1) 3.14 4.7 2.8

UNLOADED WEB (WEB2) 3.1 2.5

LOADED WEB (WEB1) 129.3 167.8

------------

UNLOADED WEB (WEB2) 129.3 127.3

TOTAL MOMENT 258.6 295.1

As shown in the table, the bending moment for the loaded web obtained by the beam

analysis model is 23% less than that obtained by the grillage model (129.3 vs. 167.8).

Moreover, the total moment of the box section obtained by the beam analysis is about 12.4%

less than the results of the grillage model. The results of the beam analysis are in the unsafe-

design direction which leads to under-design of the section.

This observation indicates the inaccuracy of the beam analysis modeling technique,

which is widely used by practicing engineers, in both the lateral load distribution between the

webs and in determining the total bending moment of the box-section. Moreover, the beam

analysis method can not account for warping, distortion, and bending deformations of the

individual wall elements of the box. It also can not predict the response of the deck slab due to

local wheel loads.

In all of the following sections the results of the grillage analysis will be used as it has

been proven to be the most appropriate modeling technique in our case.

II. Torsion moment of the box section:

The torsion moment of the box section is made up from the torque in the longitudinal grillage

elements in addition to the eccentricity of the shear forces of the two external webs at the

sides of the deck. Figure 6 shows the torsion forces on cross section of twisted deck and the

corresponding grillage model.

One half of the total torque on the cross section is provided by the summation of

longitudinal member torque and the other half is provided by the opposed vertical

shear forces on opposite sides of the section.

In the case of vertical webs, the arm between the shear forces is taken as the horizontal

distance between the centroids of the two external webs. In the case of inclined webs, some

designers consider the distance between the webs at the top slab to be the arm distance, which

usually results in higher values for the torque. Table 1 shows the values of the total torque

calculated in our study when the arm is considered as the distance between the centroids of

the inclined webs compared to the results of the beam analysis 63.29 Ton.m vs. 64. Ton.m.

When the distance between the webs at the top slab is considered instead, as usually done by

some bridge designers, the total torque is 70.46 Ton.m which is 11.3% higher than the results

shown in table 1

III. Effect of the rigidity of the transverse grillage members on the grillage results:

transverse grillage members are the

top and bottom slabs in addition to

the external and internal

diaphragms. The bending of the

box slab in the transversal direction

about the neutral axis at the level of

their common center of gravity is

shown in figure 7.

The moment of inertia of the top and bottom slabs in the transverse direction is:

IT = h2d'd"/ (d'+d") per unit width

CT = 2 IT per unit width

Where d', d" and h are the slab thicknesses and the distance between the centroids of the top

and bottom slabs (1, 2 and 3).

Table 2 shows the variation of the bending moment and the torque when the rigidity of

the transverse slab section reduces due to cracking.

In this table, Rs, represents the ratio considered from both the inertia IT and the

torsional constant CT required to determine the flexural and torsional rigidity of the transverse

members.

B.M, Web1 B.M, Web2 Torque

(Ton.m) (Ton.m) (Ton.m)

Rs=0.00 198.21 80.00 64.60

Rs=0.25 167.80 127.30 63.29

Rs=0.50 165.31 131.20 62.18

Rs=0.75 162.36 134.24 61.60

Rs=1.0 160.40 136.00 61.38

In this comparison, the rigidity of the intermediate diaphragm RID = 0. 5

When Rs=0.25, the ratio between the B.M. of the loaded and the unloaded

webs is 132%. This ratio decreases to 118% by considering the full rigidity of the

slabs (Rs =1, i.e. uncracked slabs).These results show remarkable change in the lateral

distribution of the load between the longitudinal members due to the change in the

rigidity of the transverse members.

In order to address the effect of the intermediate diaphragms on the behavior of the

box girder, the rigidity of the existing intermediate diaphragm was changed from 0%

to 100%, RID =0 and 1.0, respectively and the behavior of the deck was investigated.

Table 3 shows the straining actions of the webs under different values of the rigidity of

the intermediate diaphragm.

B.M, Loaded Web B.M, Unloaded Web Torque

(Ton.m) (Ton.m) (Ton.m)

RID=0.0 165.29 131.11 62.18

RID=0.25 165.30 131.15 62.18

RID=0.50 165.31 131.17 62.18

RID=0.75 165.31 131.19 62.18

RID=1.0 165.32 131.21 62.18

1

(Rs=0.5)

As shown in the table, the change in the straining actions of the longitudinal

grillage is not affected by changing the rigidity of the intermediate diaphragm. Moreover,

the results are not affected by the existence of the intermediate diaphragm as shown in the

results of table 3 when RID =0 compared to the results when RID = 1.0.

The above mentioned results about the effect of intermediate diaphragms

were emphasized by considering two intermediate diaphragms instead of one and

the analysis of the box was repeated. Table 4 shows the results in three cases:

without intermediate diaphragm, with one intermediate diaphragm and with two

intermediate diaphragms.

Table 4 Effect of the number of the intermediate diaphragms

B.M, Loaded Web B.M, Unloaded Web Torque

(Ton.m) (Ton.m) (Ton.m)

NO I.D. 165.29 131.11 62.18

ONE I.D. 165.30 131.15 62.18

TWO I.Ds. 166.38 130.65 62.30

benefits in our study. In fact this has been always the case for straight box decks. This

conclusion explains the reason for some specifications to change the requirements of

the intermediate diaphragm. For example, AASHTO bridge design specifications

required intermediate diaphragm spaced every 12 m maximum, prior to 1969. After

1969, the spacing increased to 18 m. In 1994, AASHTO specified that for straight box

girder bridges and for curved box girder bridges with an inside radius of curvature

more than 240 m, there is no need for intermediate diaphragms (5). In fact, the

introduction of intermediate diaphragms impedes the construction progress and there

is a tendency to eliminate them.

Unfortunately, this fact is still unknown among some designers who insist on

adding not only one, but two or more intermediate diaphragms increasing the

complexity of the construction.

Usually the external webs are preferred to be inclined for better architectural shape of

the bridge and to reduce the space required for the substructure under the bridge deck.

In order to study the effect of the angle of inclination of the webs (d, degree), a 3-

D shell model was used in which; the inclination of the webs to the horizontal varies

between 45 deg. to 90 deg. In all cases the width of the carriage way was maintained

unchanged. As shown in figure 8.a.

Figure 8.b shows the straining actions studied in this section:

• The bending moment along the web width, M1, M2 and M3

(Ton.m/m).

• The bending moment along the web length, M4 and M5

(Ton.m/m).

• The axial force along the top slab, T1 and T2. (Ton/m).

Figure (8): Effect of the inclination of the webs on the out of plane moments.

(b) Elevation of the web without of plane bending moments.

Table 5 shows the change of the above mentioned moments and forces when the angle

of web inclination changes.

M1 M2 M3 M4 M5 T1 T2

d=45 0.5 0.16 0.19 8.9 1.7 3.35 4.5

d=60 0.53 -0.3 0.39 4.67 1.02 1.5 2.6

d=75 0.53 -0.5 0.61 1.68 0.41 0.1 1.34

d=90 0.56 -0.7 0.87 0.1 0 -1.1 0.98

The transversal moment M1 at the top of the web does not change by changing d

while M2 and M3 change due to the increase in the width of the bottom slab by

increasing d.

The longitudinal moments M4 and M5, at the sides of the web, increase when d

decreases. These moments require longitudinal side reinforcement in the web which is

increased near the end diaphragm. This reinforcement is usually ignored by the

designers. M4 and M5 decrease by increasing the angle of inclination d due to the

decrease in the component of the weight of the web normal to its plane.

The axial forces T1 and T2 are higher for smaller values of d. These forces are

axial tensile forces that require additional reinforcement in the top slab which is

usually ignored by inexperienced designers.

CONCLUSIONS:

1. The beam analysis modeling technique is inaccurate and leads to unsafe design

of box-girder bridge decks.

2. The distance between the centroids of the webs must be used when calculating

the torque on the section instead of the distance at the top slabs.

3. The change in the rigidity of the transversal slabs results in remarkable change in

the lateral distribution of the load between the longitudinal members.

4. The use of intermediate diaphragms has been proven to have no advantages in

box section bridge deck with single cell.

5.The web inclination changes the out of plane bending moment and introduces

tensile forces on the top slab

REFERENCES:

1- West, R. “The use of grillage analogy for the analysis of slab and pseudo-slab

bridge decks”, Research Report 21, Cement and Concrete Association,

London, 1973.

2- E. C. Hambly, “Bridge deck behavior”, 2nd edition, 1991.

3- Conrad P. Heins, Richard A. Lawrie, “Design of modern concrete highway

bridges”, John Wiley and Sons, 1984.

4- Eugene J. O’Brien and Damien L. Keogh, “Bridge Deck Analysis”, E & FN

Spon, London, 1999.

5- AASHTO,(1996), Standard specifications for highway bridges,

Washington, D.C.

6- Canadian highway bridge design code(CHBDC 2000), Ontario Ministry of

Transportation

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