Soil pressure on box culverts


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Title: Soil pressure on box culverts

Author(s): Maher K. Tadros and Joseph V. Benak

Publication: Structural Journal

Volume: 86

Issue: 4

Appears on pages(s): 439-450

Keywords: box beams; culverts; finite element method; loads (forces); reinforced concrete; soil pressure; specifications; strength method; structural analysis; structural design; working stress method; strength; Structural Research

Date: 7/1/1989

Study critically examines the provisions of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) "Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges," relative to design of reinforced concrete box culverts. This paper deals specifically with two topics: soil pressures and design methods. The soil pressure analysis was performed by finite element modeling taking into account soil-structure interaction. The analysis confirms previous field observations that the AASHTO provisions considerably underestimate soil loading. Formulas are proposed for prediction of more realistic soil pressures. Influence of the proposed soil pressures on culvert size and reinforcement is demonstrated by numerical examples. Both the working stress design and the strength design methods are employed. It is shown that, even with the increase in soil pressures as suggested, use of the more rational strength design method could result in material savings.