Full-Scale Wall of Wind Testing of Variable Message Signs (VMS) Structures to Develop Drag Coefficients for AASHTO Supports Specifications

The use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies on highways is an attractive option for traffic facility operators. Variable Message Signs (VMS) are the cornerstone of ITS infrastructure as they relay messages to motorists for warnings of hazards ahead such as fog, traffic congestion, accidents, construction, and lane closings. VMS messages are of paramount importance in ensuring safety and avoiding fatal crashes (such as the multi-vehicle accident and fatalities along I-75 of Gainesville, Florida, in January 2012 when drivers were blinded by a combination of fog and smoke caused by a nearby brushfire). The objective of this project is to develop accurate drag coefficients for incorporation in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Supports Specifications to foster safer and more economic design of VMS structures. The research will: (1) perform full-scale wind (and rain) testing of VMS structures (or portions thereof) at the 12-fan Wall of Wind facility (WoW) of Florida International University (FIU) and measure drag, gust effects, system responses, and failure modes (if any) under a range of service level and extreme wind conditions; (2) compare WoW data to available field measurements for fatigue wind velocities; (3) develop drag coefficients for both fatigue and extreme wind (and rain) conditions; (4) determine fatigue behavior and extreme event failure of connections, members, and foundations subjected to WoW test-based data using dynamic finite element modeling at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB); (5) quantify possible economic benefits gained when using separate drag coefficients for fatigue and ultimate strength design and assess the impact of new coefficients on the design of structural supports; and (6) develop new specifications for AASHTO by stipulating separate drag coefficients to use with fatigue and extreme wind loading for design of VMS structures.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Alabama, Birmingham

    Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
    1075 13th Street South
    Birmingham, AL  United States  35294

    Florida International University

    Miami, FL  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Fouad, Fouad

    Chowdhury, Arindam

  • Start Date: 20120108
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33608

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01640929
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12GUTC12, A0-UTC-039
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jul 13 2017 1:02AM