Bridge Management, Inspection and Sustainability

Full Session with Abstracts

340652-1 - Benefits and Challenges of Automating Refined Load Ratings for Girder Bridges

Friday, April 20
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: 203A

Current industry trends in bridge load ratings acknowledge both the benefits of refined ratings and the added expense. Refined ratings are used sparingly in part because of the added level of resources needed produce and evaluate analytical models. This additional effort consists of critical broad engineering decisions such as modeling approach and a substantial amount of tedious and error prone tasks of manipulating a finite element analysis (FEA) program via a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to build and analyze a model. By separating the broad engineering decisions and passing them as input into a series of automated algorithms that carry out model building, analysis and results extraction, the refined rating process can be made much more efficient and consistent. The biggest challenge of automating this process is balancing the flexibility and robustness of the process with the amount of engineering overhead required to develop the necessary input. An automated refined load rating needs to accommodate bridge configurations that fall outside the bounds of applicability of distribution factors used in approximate methods. As an example, these distribution factors aren’t applicable to bridges with features such as variable skews or curvature, which present additional challenges in model generation as well. Once established, an automated process enables a load rating engineer to spend their time studying structural behavior and the effect of modeling decisions or rehabilitation strategies rather than manipulating a GUI. Automation also makes a process completely repeatable and more transparent than traditional refined analysis. This paper discusses the refined rating process, as well as the challenges and benefits of automating this process for multi-girder bridges.

Jeffrey Weidner

Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at El Paso

Jeffrey Weidner is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at The University of Texas at El Paso. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. from Drexel University in Philadelphia, and his M.S. from Lehigh University. After graduating from Drexel, Dr. Weidner worked four years in industry for a small, Philadelphia-based firm focused on Bridge Assessment and Management, primarily through modeling and field instrumentation. His research interests are focused on performance assessment of structures and investigating how existing and emerging technologies can change our approach.

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Thomas Golecki

Practice Leader - Modeling and Simulation
Pennoni Associates

Mr. Golecki is a PE and SE in the Intelligent Infrastructure Systems group of Pennoni Associates with more than 10 years of experience in structural analysis, simulation of a variety of structures including bridges, buildings and radar structures. During this time, he has developed programming skills to improve efficiency and to make calculations traceable, repeatable, checkable, and highly automated.

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