Structural Design Requirements for Culvert Joints

Traditional methods for the structural design of buried culverts and storm drains (culverts) ignore longitudinal stresses, transverse stresses, and circumferential stresses at the joint. The structural design of the culvert joint assumes only in-plane loading of the pipe's cross section, that is, in-plane bending and in-plane thrust. Current practice does not consider longitudinal bending moments and shear resulting from non-uniform loading and/or variations in the bedding support along the length of the pipe. Field observations show that longitudinal effects such as variation in bedding stiffness may be the cause of many culvert failures. Failure of the joint may allow water and soil to seep through the joint, potentially resulting in loss of soil support, and ultimately, collapse of the pipe and pavement damage. Longitudinal distress resulting from poor bedding alignment and stiffness is a problem that may be solved using tighter standards for construction/installation. Nevertheless, experience shows that most pipe installations are less than perfect. A structural design process that considers longitudinal effects will improve the performance of joints. The objective of this research is to develop structural design requirements for joints in flexible and rigid culverts to withstand variations in construction, support, and loading conditions. These requirements shall be suitable for consideration for adoption by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Highway Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures.


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  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $370000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 15-38

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Dekelbab, Waseem

  • Performing Organizations:

    Queen's University, Canada

    Department of Civil Engineering
    Kingston, K7L 3N6,    
  • Principal Investigators:

    Moore, Ian

  • Start Date: 20090529
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20120430
  • Source Data: RiP Project 19113

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01464379
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 15-38
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:41PM