Strut-and-Tie Model Design Examples for Bridges

Williams, Christopher Scott


Strut-and-tie modeling (STM) is a versatile, lower-bound (i.e. conservative) design method for reinforced concrete structural components. Uncertainty expressed by engineers related to the implementation of existing STM code specifications as well as a growing inventory of distressed in-service bent caps exhibiting diagonal cracking was the impetus for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to fund research project 0-5253, D-Region Strength and Serviceability Design, and the current implementation project (5-5253-01). As part of these projects, simple, accurate STM specifications were developed. This thesis acts as a guidebook for application of the proposed specifications and is intended to clarify any remaining uncertainties associated with strut-and-tie modeling. A series of five detailed design examples feature the application of the STM specifications. A brief overview of each design example is provided below. The examples are prefaced with a review of the theoretical background and fundamental design process of STM (Chapter 2).

Example 1: Five-Column Bent Cap of a Skewed Bridge
This design example serves as an introduction to the application of STM. Challenges are introduced by the bridge’s skew and complicated loading pattern. A clear procedure for defining relatively complex nodal geometries is presented.

Example 2: Cantilever Bent Cap
A strut-and-tie model is developed to represent the flow of forces around a frame corner subjected to closing loads. The design and detailing of a curved-bar node at the outside of the frame corner is described.

Example 3a: Inverted-T Straddle Bent Cap (Moment Frame)
An inverted-T straddle bent cap is modeled as a component within a moment frame. Bottom-chord (ledge) loading of the inverted-T necessitates the use of local STMs to model the flow of forces through the bent cap’s cross section.

Example 3b: Inverted-T Straddle Bent Cap (Simply Supported)
The inverted-T bent cap of Example 3a is designed as a member that is simply supported at the columns.

Example 4: Drilled-Shaft Footing
Three-dimensional STMs are developed to properly model the flow of forces through a deep drilled-shaft footing. Two unique load cases are considered to familiarize the designer with the development of such models.

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