American Society of Civil Engineers

Risk Analysis of Fatigue Failure of Highway Steel Bridges

by Nur Yazdani, (Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Florida A&M Univ./Florida State Univ., College of Engrg., Tallahassee, FL 32307) and Pedro Albrecht, M.ASCE, (Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742)

Journal of Structural Engineering, Vol. 113, No. 3, March 1987, pp. 483-500, (doi:

     Access full text
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by Fred Moses    (See full record)
Abstract: A probabilistic fracture mechanics model was developed for determining the risk of fatigue failure of steel highway bridges. The model consists of: (1) Stochastic inputs for crack growth rate, fracture toughness, initial crack size, and load history; (2) a deterministic fracture mechanics calculation of crack growth; and (3) a Monte Carlo simulation to obtain the output variable, i.e., the fatigue life. The following effects on the risk of failure were examined: inspection interval, truck weight, truck traffic, system versus detail reliability, and length of service life extension. The model was applied to three bridges with cover-plated girders. It was found to predict well the short service life of the Yellow Mill Pond Bridge, Connecticut, in which the cover-plate end details began to fail 12 years after bridge opening. The model is particularly useful in determining the risk of extending the service life of a bridge beyond its intended design life.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Highway bridges
Risk management
Steel bridges