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Appendix C.

Rating Procedure for Existing Bridges

Abstract
This procedure can be used to standardize the method for determining maximum
safe live load capacities of existing bridges at Company facilities. It provides a
basis for computing the maximum loads that may be allowed on a bridge when
materials are of good quality, members are acting normally, and deductions in size
or area have been made for deteriorated members. It is assumed that the bridges are
thoroughly inspected as often as the condition of the structures requires.
This procedure differs from the AASHTO requirements as it is more simplistic.
However, the intent is to maintain safe bridge structures that can be used to their
fullest capacity with the consideration that the bridges are used for low volume with
vehicle speeds limited to reduce impact. This procedure is based on structural types
typically used in process plants. It is important that a copy of Reference 1 be
obtained, reviewed and used in any rating work.
Contents

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Rating Procedure

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Bridge Inspection Procedure

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References

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Appendix C

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Civil and Structural Manual

Rating Procedure
1.

Obtain design drawings or if possible as-built drawings of the bridge. The


bridge should be inspected to verify that the actual bridge details conform to
the drawings.

2.

If possible, the deck stringers, support girders and piers should be given a
detailed inspection by an engineer or qualified inspector to determine the
appropriate safety factors which should be applied. If a detailed inspection can
not be made, the safety factors should be increased.

3.

Determine stresses in bridge members as follows:


a.

b.

c.

Loading:
1.

All dead load should be included in stress calculations.

2.

Live load should consist of a H or HS truck loading (Ref. 1 Sec.


3.7) or other live load specified by the operators of the facility. Only
one maximum legal vehicle load should be placed on the bridge at a
time if the bridge is less than 200 ft. long.

3.

Impact load shall be applied (Ref. 1 Sec. 3.8.2). However, impact load
can be reduced if speeds less than 10 mph are enforced on the bridge,
and the unevenness of the approaches and bridge structure do not
cause additional impact (Reference 2, Sec. 5.2.3). For typical bridge
span lengths at Company facilities the impact allowance will be 30
percent. For enforced speed limits of less than 10 mph an impact
allowance of 10 percent is suggested.

4.

Other loads (e.g., Seismic/Wind) specified in Reference 1, Sec. 3


should be applied as appropriate to the structure without a truck/crane
load.

Load Distribution and Load Factors:


1.

Reference 1, Sec. 3.23 provides a method to distribute loads between


a series of beams and stringers.

2.

Reference 1, Sec. 3.22 provides load factors for designing bridge


members using either service load method or the ultimate strength
method.

Analysis of Stresses in Bridge Members:


1.

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Any recognized method may be used to find forces and stresses in


members. If bridge piers are not pile supported, settlement of piers
could cause overstress of longitudinal stringers. In this case it could

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Civil and Structural Manual

Appendix C

be best to use simple spans between piers and not assume continuity
for continuous beams.
d.

e.

f.

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Timber Bridge Design Capacity:


1.

Determine forces and stresses in timber bridges as discussed above.


Allowable stresses are given in Reference 1, Sec. 13.

2.

When checking the shear in a member locate the load as specified in


Reference 1, Sec. 13.3.1. In many instances, shear from wheel loads
will control the design of a timber bridge. Only use an increase in
allowable shear stress if checks or cracks in the side of the member
are very small as determined after a thorough inspection of each
bridge member.

3.

Deflection should be reviewed for long span members. If deflection is


higher than L/240, the live load should be reduced or an increased
impact factor applied as appropriate.

4.

Reference 1, Section 13.2.5.1 allows an increase in allowable stresses


for a short-duration load. It should be noted that the duration is cumulative over the life of the structure. Therefore, for a posted wheel load,
this increased allowable probably will not apply.

Steel Structures Design Capacity:


1.

Reference 1, Section 10 provides information for determining allowable stress in steel structures.

2.

Reference 2, Table 5.4.2.A and 5.4.2B provide the yield stress to be


used for steel structures where the yield stress is not provided on the
drawings.

3.

If the inspection of the bridge shows that steel members have


corroded, the section properties should be reduced as appropriate. The
inspection should also verify that stress corrosion cracking has not
occurred.

4.

Reference 1, Section 3.27.3.1 discusses the distribution of wheel load


to steel grating.

Concrete Structures (Reinforced and Prestressed) Design Capacity:


1.

From Reference 2, Section 5.4.6, A concrete bridge need not be


posted for restricted loading when it has been carrying normal traffic
for an appreciable length of time and shows no distress. This general
rule will apply to bridges for which details of the reinforcement are
not known. However, the bridge should be inspected at frequent intervals for any distress signs which may develop until such time as the
bridge is strengthened or replaced.

2.

Distribution of load in concrete deck slabs can be determined by


Reference 2, Section 5.3.3 or Reference 1, Section 3.24.

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Appendix C

Civil and Structural Manual

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Existing bridges will possibly not conform to the latest requirements


of Reference 1 in at least two conditions:
a.

Section 3.24.8 requires an edge beam on new structures. For


existing structures, if there is no edge beam, assure that edge
failure will not occur if the wheel is put 1'-0 from the curb.

b.

Section 8.16.8.4 requires a distribution of tension reinforcement


that will limit the size of cracks. The applicability of this section
should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Abutments and Piers


1.

Check the overturning/sliding stability and soil pressure under piers


and abutments. Many of these structures are not pile supported. Therefore, this could limit the rating of the bridge.

2.

Lateral overburden pressure should be put on the wall from vehicle


wheel loads. For low retaining walls, apply 60 percent of the vertical
load, horizontally to the wall at a distance from the base of 60 percent
of the height.

Bridge Inspection Procedure


A Chevron Bridge Inspection Procedure is available from the Civil and Structural
Division of the Engineering Technology Department. It is adapted from Reference
2, and covers:

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Responsibilities and Qualifications of Inspection Personnel


Frequency and Level of Inspection
Inspection Procedures and Reports
Bridge Inspection Reports

References
1.

Standard Specification for Highway Bridges, 1986 or latest edition by American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

2.

Manual for Maintenance Inspection of Bridges, 1986 AASHTO.

3.

Manual of Steel Construction, American Institute of Steel Construction


(AISC), 8th Edition.

4.

American Institute of Timber Construction (AITC), 2nd Edition.

5.

Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete (ACI 318), American


Concrete Institute.

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