Gusset-less Truss Connection Physical and Structural Model to Aid Bridge Inspection and Condition Assessment

Gusset-less connections reduce the number of bolts required at the bridge and decrease the vulnerability of the connections. However, these innovative connections cannot be assessed using the available tools for load rating of gusset-plate connections for steel truss bridges (Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Publication FHWA-HRT-14-063). The research study proposed here includes a scale physical model of the connection and extensive laboratory with strain sensors and visualization tools to predict area of concerns over the service life of the bridge. These laboratory results will be combined with field collected structural performance data and analytically-predicted structural performance to create a protocol for inspection, structural assessment and rating of the gusset-less connections. This procedure will be refined to develop a framework to extend this protocol for application to future innovative structural elements.