Application of the Grillage Methodology to Determine Load Distribution Factors for Spread Slab Beam Bridges
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Transverse load distribution behavior amongst bridge girders is influenced by many parameters including girder material properties, spacing, skew, deck design, and stiffening element interactions. In order to simply and conservatively approximate the bridge superstructure load distribution between girders, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) LRFD Bridge Design Specifications contain load distribution factor (LDF) equations for many common bridge types. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had recently developed a new design for bridge superstructures that utilizes a spread configuration of prestressed concrete slab beams. AASHTO does not contain LDFs for this type of bridge so the load sharing behavior of this superstructure must be investigated further. TxDOT has funded the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute (TTI) to design, model, construct, test, and analyze a full scale spread slab beam bridge. In addition to this testing, an existing slab beam bridge in Denison, Texas will be instrumented and observed for supplementary slab beam behavior data. To predict bridge behavior, computer models of the Riverside experimental bridge and of the Denison field bridge were developed using both the grillage and finite element methods of analysis. The experimental results from the Riverside and Denison bridges will not be collected by the conclusion of this thesis so a third bridge with existing experimental data, the Drehersville, Pennsylvania bridge, was also modeled for calibration purposes. The work presented by this thesis focuses on how to accurately model transverse load distribution relationships and LDFs for use in bridge design. The analysis covered is concentrated primarily on the grillage method, with the finite element analysis as part of the larger project scope. From this analysis it was determined that the grillage method was able to accurately model bridge LDFs as compared to FEM modeling and experimental results, for spread slab beam and spread box beam bridges. The critical loading configurations for all bridges placed two trucks side by side and as far to one edge of the bridge as possible. It was also determined that at an ultimate loading case, the load is distributed much more evenly across the deck than at service loading.
Petersen-Gauthier, Joel (2013). Application of the Grillage Methodology to Determine Load Distribution Factors for Spread Slab Beam Bridges. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from