Development of a Novel Aerodynamic Solution to Mitigate Large Vibrations in Traffic Signal Structures

The cantilevered-arm traffic structures (e.g. structural supports of signs, luminaires, and traffic signals) are an integral part of the transportation systems. The cantilevered form of these structures, are prone to fatigue failures at the base of the cantilevered elements as there is no provisions for fatigue in that specification. This is attributable to the lack of consideration of fatigue in the design of these structures and to the wind environment that can induce galloping, vortex shedding, wind gusts, and truck-induced gusts. These structures’ low mechanical damping (0.1-0.4%) is known to contribute to this type of behavior. While much research in recent years has been focused on development of vibration mitigation strategies or design of connections that are fatigue-rated, less attention has been given to the natural performance of these structures when exposed to the natural wind environment. This IDEA project considers the “aerodynamic damping” as an active means to mitigate the large amplitude vibrations of these structures. The proposed method is superior to the other common approaches, as it uses the inherent characteristics of the traffic light (specific dimension ratios) to ensure that the aerodynamic damping is maximized during the gust events. It is unique in the sense that it will not require specific tuning (like those required for non-aerodynamic vibration mitigation systems), or implementation of the heavier fatigue-rated connections. The tests that were conducted in the University’s Wind Simulation and Testing Laboratory have shown that the proposed approach will help improve the performance of traffic signal structures. In these studies, tests on two different traffic light configurations were conducted. Then, physical characteristics of traffic lights was changed to reach the maximum possible aerodynamic damping at each instance. This in turn has resulted in rapid damping of the large amplitude motions. A traffic signal structure was then monitored in the field. The information collected from the field were then used to assess the impact of the traffic light modification on the response of the traffic light structure in in-plane and out-of-plane directions. The economic implications of this approach are very significant, considering the millions of these structures that are being maintained by cities and state DOTs.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $136670
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-30, IDEA 201

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

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

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Jawed, Inam

  • Performing Organizations:

    Iowa State University

  • Principal Investigators:

    Alipour, Alice

  • Start Date: 20201019
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20201019

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01677700
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-30, IDEA 201
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Aug 13 2018 3:03PM