Continuing Education

T.R. Higgins Lecture: Towards an Integrated Fracture-Control Plan for Steel Bridges [K3]

There has been considerable research and interest in the topic of fracture-critical members (FCMs) during the past decade. As a result, the entire concept of what constitutes an FCM is being revisited and many long-standing ideas and opinions related to this classification of members is being shown to be overly conservative. Significant advances in the understanding of fracture mechanics, material and structural behavior, fatigue crack initiation, fatigue crack growth, fabrication technology and inspection technology have allowed other industries to address fracture in a more integrated manner. After years of research, new stand-alone AASHTO-ready guide specifications that give codified direction on how to perform 3D system analysis to verify system redundancy, as well as guide specifications to evaluate internal member-level redundancy of mechanically fastened built-up members, have been proposed. Additional research demonstrating the benefits of exploiting the improved toughness of modern HPS grades of steel has been completed. Through these advances, it is now possible to create an integrated FCP, combining the original intent of the 1978 FCP with modern materials, design, fabrication and inspection methodologies. Further, an integrated FCP will provide economic benefits and improved safety to owners by allowing for a better allocation of resources by setting inspection intervals and scope based on sound engineering rather than based simply on the calendar. In summary, an integrated FCP encompassing material, design, fabrication and inspection can make fracture no more likely than any other limit state, ultimately allowing for a better allocation of owner resources and increased steel bridge safety.

Intended Audience: Engineers

  • Date: 4/11/2018 - 4/13/2018
  • PDH Credits: 0


Robert J. Connor, PhD

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