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Title: Diagnostic Load Testing and Refined Analysis of Concrete Box Culverts

Author(s): Amir Gheitasi, Christopher R. Gentz, Andrew J. Foden, Biniam Aregawi

Publication: Symposium Paper

Volume: 352


Appears on pages(s): 91-115

Keywords: calibration, diagnostic load testing, live load distribution, load rating, model updating, performance evaluation, refined analysis, reinforced concrete box culverts, soil-structure interaction

DOI: 10.14359/51734859

Date: 5/31/2022


This paper presents results of a comprehensive performance evaluation, including diagnostic load testing and refined analysis, of 40 in-service reinforced concrete bridge-class culverts in Texas. The majority of the culvert inventories have been carrying unrestricted traffic for years with no significant signs of structural distress or deteriorations. However, recent load rating analysis of a select population of these culverts indicated insufficient capacity to carry design and legal loads, and the ratings were not reflective of the in-service performance of the culverts. The main objective of this study was to improve the load ratings of the culverts and eliminate the need for unjustified load posting. Diagnostic load testing was conducted on ten of the culverts to evaluate in-service performance and gain a better understanding of the actual load distribution behavior in this class of culverts. The load testing results were used to calibrate a series of 3D FE models to account for the structural attributes of the culverts, including the effects of soil-structure interaction. Calibrated 3D FE models were leveraged to adjust key assumptions and attributes in a series of correlated 2D FE models for load rating purposes. Results from this investigation indicated improvement in load ratings of the evaluated culverts after including soil-structure interaction and refinement of the live load distribution assumptions.