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Proceedings Paper

Efficient field testing for load rating railroad bridges
Author(s): Jeffrey L. Schulz; Brett C. Commander
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Paper Abstract

As the condition of our infrastructure continues to deteriorate, and the loads carried by our bridges continue to increase, an ever growing number of railroad and highway bridges require load limits. With safety and transportation costs at both ends of the spectrum. the need for accurate load rating is paramount. This paper describes a method that has been developed for efficient load testing and evaluation of short- and medium-span bridges. Through the use of a specially-designed structural testing system and efficient load test procedures, a typical bridge can be instrumented and tested at 64 points in less than one working day and with minimum impact on rail traffic. Various techniques are available to evaluate structural properties and obtain a realistic model. With field data, a simple finite element model is 'calibrated' and its accuracy is verified. Appropriate design and rating loads are applied to the resulting model and stress predictions are made. This technique has been performed on numerous structures to address specific problems and to provide accurate load ratings. The merits and limitations of this approach are discussed in the context of actual examples of both rail and highway bridges that were tested and evaluated.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 June 1995
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 2458, Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Railroads, (30 June 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.212683
Show Author Affiliations
Jeffrey L. Schulz, Bridge Diagnostics, Inc. (United States)
Brett C. Commander, Bridge Diagnostics, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2458:
Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Railroads
Donald E. Gray; Daniel H. Stone, Editor(s)

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