Steel plate girder diaphragm and cross bracing loads.
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Steel plate girder diaphragm and cross bracing loads.

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  • Abstract:
    The wide spectrum of options available to designers for analyzing and determining cross-frame forces can be a

    source of problems because different options may not result in similar solutions. The main objective of this

    project was to develop a set of recommendations and procedures and instructions to address analysis, design, and

    construction issues related to braces in steel I-girder bridges.

    Different methods that can be used to calculate brace loads are categorized and discussed in detail to identify the

    strengths and limitations of each method. The traditional 2D-grid analyses that are often used by commercial

    software packages ( such as MDX and DESCUS) does not take into account the full warping stiffness, resulting in

    underestimation of torsional stiffness of the girders. Although improved 2D-grid analyses may result in an

    improved representation of the full warping stiffness, these models are generally applicable to a no-load fit

    condition for cross-frames or diaphragms. The procedure by which 2D-grid analyses can be used for calculating

    cross-frame forces and other structural responses of bridges detailed with dead load detailing methods (erected fit

    and final fit) are described. It has been found that performance of improved and traditional 2D-grid analyses also

    depends on the framing layout (contiguous or staggered). Improved 2D-grid analyses are preferred for calculating

    the cross-frame forces because of the satisfactory performance for most of the framing layouts. A relatively

    simple method of simulating lack-of-fit is introduced in this report which makes use of models using three-dimensional (3D) finite element method (FEM). Although past studies have recommended using initial strain to

    simulate lack-of-fit in the cross-frames, this method can be tedious and complex. The proposed method makes

    use of element birth and death techniques to activate or deactivate the cross-frame elements to obtain a measure of

    the force or deformation at specific desired stages. The element birth and death method is generally more simple

    than the initial-strain methods with the essentially the same level of accuracy. Finally, different options for

    framing layouts, detailing methods, cross-frame configurations, and design methods for sizing the cross-frame

    members are discussed.

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