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Advanced bridge safety initiative, task 1 : development of improved analytical load rating procedures for flat-slab concrete bridges - a thesis and guidelines.
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  • Abstract:
    Current AASHTO provisions for the conventional load rating of flat slab bridges rely on the equivalent strip method

    of analysis for determining live load effects, this is generally regarded as overly conservative by many professional

    engineers. As a result there are a significant number of slab bridges in Maine that are (or will be) posted for reduced

    truck weights, when in reality such postings may not be necessary.

    The objective of this study is to verify a program called SlabRate which was created using MATLAB, a numerical

    computing tool and explore the potential benefits of using it over the conventional strip width method. SlabRate

    computes the rating factors for simply-supported, continuous flat slab bridges using finite element analysis (FEA).

    The verification includes creating parallel models of identical bridges in both SlabRate and the commercial

    software, and comparing the maximum moments and locations of those moments due to a variety of live and dead

    loads. These models were used to assess SlabRate’s finite-element implementation and verify the assumptions that

    are used in SlabRate. In addition to using commercial software to verify SlabRate, live load testing of a reinforced

    flat-slab concrete bridge was done, these results were then compared with the predictions of SlabRate. To explore

    the potential benefits of using SlabRate over the conventional strip width, twenty existing bridges were load rated

    using both. Twenty one different truck configurations were analyzed, these include AASHTO’s design and legal

    trucks, along with AASHTO’s specialized hauling vehicles and MaineDoT’s rating trucks.

    The results from comparing SlabRate to commercial models and the live load test showed that its finite element

    implementation is correct for evaluating simply-supported and continuous flat slab bridges. It was also concluded

    that SlabRate can be reliably used to load rate flat slab bridges having skew angles of 20° or less. Only fourteen

    bridges of the original twenty bridges met this criteria, of which seven would have rating factors above one using

    SlabRate while below one using the conventional strip width method

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