PI: Ian Hodgson
University: Lehigh University
Steel orthotropic bridge decks (SOBD) are believed to be the only deck system which is capable of achieving a 100-year design life. These decks can be used for both new construction and for redecking applications. The SOBD typically comprises bent closed-shape ribs, which are welded to a thick steel deck plate and span between floor beams. A critical design parameter for SOBDs is the effect of repeated loading (fatigue loading) from heavy truck traffic. Due to the complex fabrication that is required, it has been difficult for domestic fabricators to produce these decks economically. Additionally, there is a lack of standardization of the details.

The goal of this project is to identify two rib-to-floor beam details that can be fabricated in an automated fashion, which would reduce the fabrication cost. Two full-scale test panels have been fabricated using automated techniques (robotic welding or programmable cutting). The upcoming phase of the research involves fatigue loading of these panels to establish the fatigue resistance of the details. With standardization, fabricators will be able to more cost-effectively produce these decks and increase their competitiveness. With the continual rise in infrastructure maintenance cost, bridge systems such as the SOBD will become more common in the future. The results of this research allow domestic engineers and fabricators to produce durable and economical SOBD systems for both new bridges as well as rehabilitation of existing bridges to extend their service life.