Behavior and Design of Long-Span Metal Culverts

by James M. Duncan, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 3, Pg. 399-418

Document Type: Journal Paper


The interaction between flexible metal culverts and the surrounding backfill is examined by means of finite element analyses that simulate the placement of backfilling and subsequent application of live loads. Although metal culverts are flexible in bending, they are stiff in ring compression, and the ring compression forces are therefore greater than those corresponding to the weight of backfill above the structure. The bending moments in metal culverts are dependent on the relative flexibility of the culvert and the backfill, which can be expressed in terms of a dimensionless flexibility number. Comparisons between finite element results and field measurements show the suitability of the method as a basis for design. A simplified rational design procedure is described that considers both bending and ring compression.

Subject Headings: Backfills | Finite element method | Compression | Metals (chemical) | Culverts | Metals (material) | Bending (structural) | Live loads

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