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Evaluating Effects of Super-Heavy Loading on US-41 Bridge over White River

Anticipating super-loads to be crossing the US-41 White River Bridge, INDOT commissioned S-BRITE Center researchers to assess the structure’s response to the heavy loads. Remote, long-term monitoring was used to collect data, which also included photographs of passing trucks whose weight triggered the system to record a picture.

Built in 1958, US-41 White River Bridge is comprised of two, sixteen span, two-girder riveted superstructures sharing a single substructure.  Each superstructure carries two lanes of either northbound or southbound US-41 traffic over the White River and adjacent north and south floodplains.  The bridge is located near Hazleton, IN.  Approximately 100 super-heavy loads ranging in weight from 200,000 lbs up to over 1,000,000 lbs crossed the US-41 White River Bridge.  These loads were moved to support the construction of a new power plant facility in Indiana.

The objective of this study was to assess the effects of this series of super-heavy loads on the Bridge.  Specifically, the goal was to ensure the loads had no negative effects on the overall bridge performance.  This was accomplished through remote long-term monitoring of the structure.  Critical details were identified and instrumented with strain gages to measure stress ranges and maximum stress events due to the heavy loading.  Strain gage locations were specifically selected to capture the maximum response of the bridge to the super-loads.  Additionally, controlled load testing was performed to gain insight on the typical response of the bridge and Rainflow cycle counting was performed to construct histograms used in a fatigue analysis of the structure.  All field work and strain gage monitoring was conducted by personnel from the S-BRITE Center at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.