Diagnostic Load Testing Alternative to Timely and Costly Bridge Replacements

In order to promote commerce in New York State, the Department of Transportation developed a permit process for overweight vehicles to travel within and across the state. The overweight vehicle permit process provides safe and efficient use of the state highway transportation system and protects bridges from damage. A safe load capacity is determined for each bridge through traditional load rating analysis. If a certain safe load capacity threshold is not met then the bridge must be restricted from use of overweight vehicles. Removing load postings on bridges statewide can improve commerce and minimize user costs. Diagnostic load testing is a tool that can be used to remove load postings which were based on traditional load rating analysis. This paper will discuss the practical use of a Diagnostic Load Testing Program which provided higher safe load capacity ratings on 18 bridges (47 spans) in upstate New York. As a result it eliminated the need to restrict these bridges from use of overweight vehicles.

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