An Experimental Investigation of the Flexural Resistance of Horizontally Curved Steel I-Girder Systems

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In 1998 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began executing the experimental component of a multi-year program investigating horizontally curved steel I-girder bridges. This experimental program consists of full-scale testing to determine the effects of horizontal curvature on the structural performance of I-girders subject to moment and shear, to investigate moment/shear interaction, and to assess the behavior and ultimate capacity of a composite bridge.

The experiments that are the focus of this dissertation are the component tests designed to determine the bending strength of horizontally curved steel I-girders. These tests were conducted full-scale using a 3-girder system in order to eliminate concerns with modeling and scaling of the results. Also, the boundary conditions supplied to the components by the full-scale 3-girder system are considered to be comparable if not equal to those produced on real bridges.

The seven bending component tests were designed to examine the influence of compression flange slenderness, web slenderness and transverse stiffener spacing on bending capacity. The components were loaded within a constant moment region of the test frame eliminating applied vertical shear loads from affecting their performance. For each test, an attempt was made to capture the strains due to installation of the component into the test frame and the strain due to dead-load deflection, as well as the strains due to the applied loading.