Monitoring Steel Girder Stability for Safer Bridge Erection

The collapse of the State Route 69 Bridge over the Tennessee River near Clifton, Tennessee, is an example of how instability and lateral torsional buckling failure of a single steel bridge girder during erection might cause collapse of the whole steel superstructure. Close attention should be given to the stability of steel plate girders during erection when the lateral support provided to the compression flange might temporarily not be present. Rules of thumb in use today have been adopted by contractors/subcontractors to check the stability of cantilever or simply supported girders under erection using the L/b ratio, where L is the unbraced length and b is the compression flange width. For each girder section, a maximum L/b ratio exists beyond which lateral torsional buckling failure would occur under girder self-weight. Parametric studies were conducted following the latest AASHTO LRFD code in order to indentify the maximum L/b ratio for various girder sections and check the rules of thumb, as well as determine the dominating section parameters on girder stability under erection. Advanced nonlinear finite-element analyses were also conducted on a girder section for both the cantilever and the simply supported case in order to further understand the behavior of girder instability due to lateral torsional buckling under the self-weight, as well as to develop a trial-and-error methodology for identifying the maximum L/b ratio using computer analysis. Concurrently, the effect of lateral bracing location on the cantilever free end has been investigated, and it turned out that bracing the top tension flange would be more effective to prevent lateral torsional buckling than bracing the bottom compression flange.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract reprinted with permission from ASCE
  • Authors:
    • Zhao, Q
    • Yu, B
    • Burdette, Edwin G
    • Hastings, J S
  • Publication Date: 2009-11


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01147334
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 28 2009 5:11PM