Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Atorod Azizinamini

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ton-Lo Wang

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Reza Farimani

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Arindam Gan Chowdhury

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Ali Mostafavi

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


SDCL, Seismic detail, Finite element analysis, Integral bridge system, Nonlinear time history analysis

Date of Defense



The steel bridge system referred to as Simple for Dead load and Continuous for Live load (SDCL) has gained popularity in non-seismic areas of the country. Accordingly, it results in many advantages including enhanced service life and lower inspection and maintenance costs as compared to conventional steel systems. To-date, no research studies have been carried out to evaluate the behavior of the SDCL steel bridge system in seismic areas. The main objective of this research was to extend the application of SDCL to seismic areas.

The concept of the SDCL system was developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a complete summary of the research is provided in five AISC Engineering Journal papers. The SDCL system is providing steel bridges with new horizons and opportunities for developing economical bridge systems, especially in cases for which accelerating the construction process is a priority. The SDCL steel bridge system also provides an attractive alternative for use in seismic areas.

The SDCL concept for seismic areas needed a suitable connection between the girder and pier. In this research, an integral SDCL bridge system was considered for further investigation. The structural behavior and force resistance mechanism of the proposed seismic detail considered through analytical study. The proposed connection evaluated under push-up, push-down, inverse and axial loading to find the sequence of failure modes. The global and local behavior of the system under push-down forces was mainly similar to non-seismic detail. The nonlinear time history analysis indicated that there is a high probability that bottom flange sustains tension forces under seismic events. The finite element model subjected to push-up forces to simulate the response of the system under the vertical component of seismic loads. However, the demand-capacity ratio was low for vertical excitation of seismic loads. Besides finite element results showed that continuity of bottom flange increased ductility and capacity of the system. While the bottom flange was not continuous, tie bars helped the system to increase the ultimate moment capacity. To model the longitudinal effect of earthquake loads, the model subjected under inverse forces as well as axial forces at one end. In this case scenario, dowel bars were most critical elements of the system. Several finite element analyses performed to investigate the role of each component of preliminary and revised detail. All the results demonstrated that continuity of the bottom flange, bolts area (in the preliminary detail), tie bars over the bottom flange (in the revised detail) were not able to provide more moment capacity for the system. The only component increased the moment capacity was dowel bars. In fact, increasing the volume ratio of dowel bars could be able to increase the moment capacity and prevent premature failure of the system.

This project was Phase I of an envisioned effort that culminated in the development of a set of details and associated design provisions to develop a version of the SDCL steel bridge system, suitable for the seismic application. Phase II of this project is an ongoing project and currently the component specimen design and test setup are under consideration. The test specimen is going to be constructed and tested in the structures lab of Florida International University. A cyclic loading will be applied to the specimen to investigate the possible damages and load resistance mechanism. These results will be compared with the analysis results. In the next step, as phase III, a complete bridge with all the components will be constructed in the structures lab at the University of Nevada-Reno. The connection between steel girders will be an SDCL connection and the bridge will be subjected to a shake table test to study the real performance of the connection due to earthquake excitation.



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