NCHRP Web-Only Document 176 documents the results of a comprehensive experimental and analytical study that evaluated fatigue performance of several critical welded connections in the highway sign, signal and high-level luminaire support structures. In this study, infinite life fatigue resistance of connection details in the existing inventory was established and new cost-effective fatigue resistant connections were developed. About 80 full size galvanized specimens of sign, signal and high-level luminaire support structures containing different welded connections were fatigue tested. Using parametric Finite Element Analyses (FEA) of 3D models verified by test data, fatigue performance of the connections in both finite and infinite life regimes were defined in terms of fatigue stress concentration factors over the range of applicable geometric dimensions. The study demonstrated that tube-to-transverse plate connections are the most fatigue critical details in the subject structures. Increasing the stiffness of the transverse plate is the most cost-effective means of improving fatigue resistance of this connection. Groove welded connections with smaller opening in the plate exhibits largest fatigue resistance. Sharper bend radius and less number of sides reduce fatigue threshold of connections in multi-sided sections. Based on these research findings, new specification recommendations were proposed for revision to the existing AASHTO specifications.
Products Availability: The contractor's final report is available online as NCHRP Web-Only Document 176