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Out-of-Flatness Plate Tolerances for Steel Tub Highway Bridges Open Access

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Steel tub (box) girders are widely used for highway bridges. The slender plate components of these structures are subject to local buckling. This compressive limit state is particularly consequential in webs, midspan top flanges, and continuous-over-support bottom flanges during construction. There have been multiple incidents of bridge collapse failures in the past due to thin plate instability. In the United States, there are currently no out-of-flatness tolerances for bottom flanges of steel tub girders in governing codes. This study uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to better understand the effect of initial out-of-flatness on girder yield-strength. This extends previous studies to include co-existing imperfections in webs and bottom flanges as well as both 50 ksi and 100 ksi yield steel plate. Code adoption of bf/200 is recommended for the bottom flange out-of flatness tolerance, where bf represents the bottom flange width, based on this research and previous studies.

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