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FATIGUE ASSESSMENT OF CONCRETE BRIDGES

EURO NORMS
Ravindra Kumar Goel*
(Published in IRICEN Journal of Civil Engineering, Dec., 2008)

1.0

INTRODUCTION
Throughout the life of a bridge, constant road or rail traffic loading will
produce large numbers of repetitive loading cycles in bridge elements.
Both steel (reinforcing and pre-stressing) and concrete components which
are subjected to large numbers of repetitive loading cycles can become
susceptible to fatigue damage. As a consequence, fatigue assessment is
required to be undertaken for structures and structural components which
are subjected to regular load cycles. The design provisions are explicitly
given in Euro Code (EC 2-2). The relevant features of this code are
described in this paper for the general awareness of bridge designers of
Indian Railways.

2.0

COMPONENTS NOT REQUIRING FATIGUE ASSESSMENT


Some exceptions, where fatigue verification is generally not required are
as under:

Footbridges, except those components very sensitive to wind action.


The most common cause of wind-induced fatigue is vortex shedding.
EN 1991-1-4 covers wind-induced fatigue.
Buried arch and frame structures with a minimum earth cover of 1.0 m
(road bridges) or 1.5 m (railway bridges). This assumes a certain
amount of arching of the soil, which suggests that span should also be
relevant.
Foundations.
Piers and columns not rigidly connected to bridge superstructures.
Rigid in this context is intended to refer to moment connection as
pinned connections will not usually lead to cycles of significant live load
stress range.
Retaining walls of embankments for roads and railways.
Abutments which are not rigidly connected to bridge superstructures
(with the exception of the slabs of hollow abutments)
Prestressing and reinforcing steel in regions where, under the frequent
combination of actions only compressive stresses occur at the extreme
concrete fibres. This is because the strain and hence stress range in
the steel is typically small while the concrete remains in compression.

* Director/Bridges & Structures Directorate/RDSO/Lucknow.

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3.0

INTERNAL FORCES AND STRESSES FOR FATIGUE VERIFICATION

3.1

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.2(1)P requires stresses to be calculated assuming


cracked concrete sections, neglecting the tensile strength of the concrete.
Shear lag should be taken into account where relevant (2-1-1/5.3.2.1
refers). 2-1-1/6.8.2(2)P additionally requires the effect of different bond
behaviour of prestressing and reinforcing steel to be taken into account in
the calculation of reinforcement stress. This results in an increase in
stress in the reinforcing steel from that calculated using a cracked elastic
cross-section analysis by a factor, , given in 2-1-1/(6.64).

3.2

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.2(3) requires fatigue verification to be undertaken for


the design of shear reinforcement, which is a new check for UK practice.
Steel forces are calculated from the truss analogy using a compressive
strut angle of fat. For fatigue calculation, it is important to use a realistic
estimate of the stress range. It is therefore appropriate that this angle is
taken greater than that assumed for the ultimate limit state design (within
the angular limits of 2-1-1/6.2.3(2)), since the latter is the angle at the
ultimate limit state after a certain amount of plastic redistribution has taken
place to reduce the stress in the links and to use them optimally. As a
result, fat may be taken as:

tan fat tan 1.0

2-1-1/(6.65)

where is the angle of concrete compression struts to the beam axis


assumed in the ultimate limit state shear design. For shear reinforcement
inclined at an angle to the horizontal, the steel force can be determined
by re-arranging 2-1-1/(6.13) thus:
V s
s
Asw z cot fat cot sin
where V is the shear force range.
4.0

COMBINATION OF ACTIONS
The calculation of the stress ranges for fatigue verification to EC2 requires
the applied load to be divided into non-cyclic and fatigue-inducing cyclic
action effects. The basic combination of the non-cyclic load is defined by
expressions (6.66) and (6.67) of EN 1992-1-1 and is equivalent to the
definition of the frequent combination for the serviceability limit state. The
cyclic action is then combined with the unfavourable non-cyclic action to
determine the stress ranges 2-1-1/(6.68) and (6.69) refer.

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The non-cyclic action gives a mean stress level upon which the cyclic part
of the action effect is superimposed as illustrated in Figure-1 for
reinforcement. Mean stress is important as it determines whether the sign
of the stress in an element reverses in the course of a cycle of loading. In
Figure-1, the reinforcement stress range for a given cyclic action is less for
the smaller tensile mean stress as part of the cyclic loading then causes
compression in the concrete, which reduces the stress in the
reinforcement for that part of the cycle.
Bar
stress

Tension

Stress range from cyclic loads


(e.g. passage of fatigue load model)

Reduced stress range


for same vehicle

Mean stress level


from non-cyclic loads

Compressio
n

Time

Figure 1 - Stress ranges for reinforcement fatigue verification caused by


same cyclic action at different mean stress levels

5.0

VERIFICATION
PROCEDURE
PRESTRESSING STEEL

FOR

REINFORCING

AND

5.1

The number of cycles to fatigue failure of a steel component is a function


of the stress that each loading cycle induces in the component and the
type of component. Since the relationship of stress range () to the
number of cycles to failure (N) is exponential, the relationship is normally
plotted graphically in the form of a log log N curve. These types of
curve are commonly referred to as S-N curves.

5.2

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.4(1) allows the damage produced by cycles of a


single stress range of amplitude to be determined by using the
corresponding S-N curves for reinforcing and pre-stressing steel. The
form of these curves is illustrated in Figure-2 for reinforcement; the
diagram for prestressing steel is similar, using 0.1% proof stress in place
of yield stress. Recommended values defining the appropriate S-N curve
geometry for the steel component under consideration are given in 2-11/Tables 6.3N and 6.4N for reinforcement and pre-stressing steel
respectively. The recommended parameters therein may be modified in
the National Annex.

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log
Rs
k

log fyk

b = k1
1

b = k2
1

log
N

Figure -2 - Characteristic fatigue strength curve (S-N curve) for reinforcing


steel

5.3

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.4(1) and also 2-1-1/2.4.2.3(1) require a partial factor,


F,fat, to be applied to all fatigue loads when calculating the stress range.
The value for F,fat is defined in the National Annex and is recommended
by EC2 to be taken as 1.0. The resisting stress range at N* cycles, Rsk ,
given in 2-1-1/Tables 6.3N and 6.4N, also has to be divided by the
material partial safety factor s,fat. The recommended value for s,fat from
2-1-1/2.4.2.4(1) is 1.15.

5.3

In real fatigue assessment situations for concrete bridge design, there will
be more than one stress range acting on the steel element throughout its
design life. 2-1-1/6.8.4(2) allows multiple amplitudes to be treated by
using a linear cumulative damage calculation, known as the Palmgren
Miner summation:

DEd
i

n i
1.0
N i

2-1-1/(6.70)

where:
n(i) is the applied number of cycles for a stress range of i
N(i) is the resisting number of cycles for a stress range of i, i.e.
the number of loading cycles to fatigue failure
5.4

For most bridges, the above is a complex calculation because the stress
in each component usually varies due to the random passage of vehicles
from a spectrum. Details on a road or rail bridge could be assessed using
the above procedure if the loading regime is known at design. This
includes the weight and number of every type of vehicle that will use each
lane or track of the bridge throughout its design life, and the correlation
between loading in each lane or track. In the majority of cases this would
require lengthy calculations.

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5.5

As an alternative to the use of 2-1-1/(6.70), 2-1-1/6.8.5 allows the use of


simplified fatigue Load Models 3 and 71, from EN 1991-2, for road and rail
bridges respectively, in order to reduce the complexity of the fatigue
assessment calculation. It is assumed that the fictitious vehicle/train alone
causes the fatigue damage. The calculated stress from the vehicle is then
adjusted by factors to give a single stress range which, for N* cycles,
causes the same damage as the actual traffic during the bridges lifetime.
This is called the damage equivalent stress and is discussed in section
below.

5.6

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.4(3) requires that, where prestressing or reinforcing


steel is exposed to fatigue loads, the calculated stresses shall not exceed
the design yield strength of the steel as EC2 does not cover cyclic
plasticity.

5.7

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.4(5) relates to assessment of existing structures,


which is strictly outside the scope of EC2, so its inclusion is curious. Its
reference to corrosion is not explicit about either the degree of corrosion
or its nature (e.g. general or pitting) so a single value of stress exponent to
cover all situations is dubious. Nevertheless, it was not intended that any
such allowance for corrosion be made in new design.
2-2/6.8.4(107) permits no fatigue check to be conducted for
external and unbonded tendons lying within the depth of the concrete
section. This is because the strain, and hence stress, variation under
service loads is small in such tendons. Consideration should be given to
fatigue in external tendons which are outside the depth of the structure
(such as in extradosed bridges) as the fluctuation in stress might be more
significant here. This situation is covered by EN 1993-1-11.

6.0

VERIFICATION USING DAMAGE EQUIVALENT STRESS RANGE


In the damage equivalent stress range method described by 2-1-1/6.8.5(1)
and 2-1-1/6.8.5(2), the real operational loading is represented by N* cycles
of an equivalent single amplitude stress range, s,equ(N*) which causes
the same damage as the actual traffic during the bridges lifetime. This
stress range may be calculated for reinforcing or prestressing steel using
2-2/Annex NN.
2-1-1/6.8.5(3) contains a verification formula for
reinforcing steel, prestressing steel and splicing devices:
Rsk ( N * )
2-1-1/(6.71)
F , fat s ,equ ( N * )

s , fat

where:
s,equ(N*)
Rsk(N*)

is the appropriate damage equivalent stress range


(converted to N* cycles) from 2-2/Annex NN.
is the resisting stress range limit at N* cycles from the
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appropriate S-N curves given in 2-1-1/Tables 6.3N or


6.4N
6.2

Euro Norm 2-1-1/(6.71) does not cover concrete fatigue verification. 22/Annex NN3.2 provides a damage equivalent verification for concrete in
railway bridges but there is no similar verification for highway bridges. For
highway bridges, concrete can be verified using the methods in 2-2/6.8.7.

7.0

OTHER VERIFICATION METHODS

7.1

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.6(1) and (2) give alternative rules for fatigue
verifications of reinforcing and prestressing steel components. These
methods are intended as an alternative to checking fatigue resistance
using 2-1-1/6.8.4 or 6.8.5.

7.2

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.6(1) allows the fatigue performance of reinforcement


or prestressing steel to be deemed satisfactory if the stress range under
the frequent cyclic load combined with the basic combination is less than
k1 for unwelded reinforcement or k2 for welded reinforcement. The values
of k1 and k2 may be given in the National Annex and EC2 recommends
taking values of 70 MPa and 35 MPa respectively. The meaning of
frequent cyclic loading is not explained but it implies a calculation based
on the fatigue load models in EN 1991-2. Assuming this to be the case, it
will usually be preferable to perform a damage equivalent stress
calculation using 2-2/Annex NN as this also uses the fatigue load models
of EN 1991-2 and will lead to a more economic answer.

7.3

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.6(2) allows the stress range alternatively to be


calculated directly from the frequent load combination to avoid the need to
calculate stress ranges from fatigue load models or directly from traffic
data. However, the recommended allowable stress ranges above would
mean that elements would rarely pass such a check.

7.4

Where welded joints or splicing devices are used in prestressed concrete


construction, 2-1-1/6.8.6(3) requires that no tension exists in the concrete
section within 200 mm of the prestressing tendons or reinforcing steel
under the frequent load combination when a reduction factor of k3 is
applied to the mean value of the prestressing force. The value of k3 is
defined in the National Annex. EC2 recommends taking a value of 0.9.
This value is increased to 1.0 in the UKs National Annex (in the same
manner as rsup and rinf in 2-1-1/5.10.9) to limit the number of load cases to
be considered for SLS and fatigue design. The criterion ensures that the
stress range for such details is kept small for the majority of cycles since
the concrete will generally remain in compression.

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7.5

VERIFICATION OF CONCRETE UNDER COMPRESSION OR SHEAR


The general fatigue verification procedure for concrete given in 22/6.8.7(101) requires a cumulative damage summation, like that in 2-11/6.8.4, to be carried out using traffic data. For rail bridges, this lengthy
calculation can be avoided by using the simplified damage equivalent
stress verification of 2-2/Annex NN.3.2. Neither the Annex nor 22/6.8.7(101) itself, however, gives appropriate data for road bridges.

7.6

As a simpler alternative, 2-1-1/6.8.7(2) gives a conservative verification


based on the non-cyclic loading used for the static design:
c ,max
c ,min
2-1-1/(6.77)
0.5 0.45
f cd , fat
f cd , fat
but limited to 0.9 for fck 50 MPa or 0.8 for fck > 50 MPa, where:
c,max

is the maximum compressive stress at a fibre under the frequent load


combination (compression measured as positive);
c,min
is the minimum compressive stress under the frequent load
combination at the same fibre where c,max occurs. c,min should be
taken as 0 if negative (in tension);
fcd,fat
is the concrete design fatigue compressive strength defined
in the code as:
f

f cd , fat k1 cc t 0 f cd 1 ck
2-2/(6.76)
250
Where
k1
cc(t0)
t0
fcd

is a coefficient defined in the National Annex and is recommended


by EC2 to be taken as 0.85;
is the coefficient for concrete strength at first cyclic loading from
2-1-1/3.1.2(6);
is the age of the concrete in days upon first cyclic loading i.e. the
age at which live load is first applied;
is the design compressive strength of concrete. A value for cc of
1.0 is intended to be used here in conjunction with k1 = 0.85, as k1
performs a similar function of accounting for sustained loading;

For concrete road bridges, this alternative concrete fatigue verification is


unlikely to govern design, other than possibly for very short spans where
the majority of the concrete stress is produced by live load. It will
therefore generally be appropriate to use this simplified check. No
guidance is given on the calculation of the concrete stresses; ignoring
concrete in tension will be a conservative assumption.

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7.7

Euro Norm 2-1-1/6.8.7(3) permits the above simplified verification of


concrete to be applied to the compression struts of members subjected to
shear and requiring shear reinforcement. Since the compression struts
have transverse tension passing through them (see discussions in section
6.5 of this guide), fcd,fat has to be reduced by the factor , defined in 2-11/6.2.2(6) and the verification becomes:

c ,max

0.5 0.45 c ,min


f cd , fat
f cd , fat
7.8

The stresses c ,max and c ,min can be calculated for reinforced concrete
beams, with shear reinforcement inclined at an angle to the horizontal,
from the following expression obtained by re-arranging 2-1-1/(6.14):

VEd 1 cot 2

c
bw z cot cot
VEd is the relevant shear force under the frequent load combination and
the other symbols are defined in 2-1-1/6.2.3. The concrete stress
increases with reducing strut angle so in this case it is conservative to
base on its ULS value in the above calculation rather than the larger
angle fat from 2-1-1/(6.65).
7.9

For members subjected to shear but not requiring shear reinforcement, 21-1/6.8.7(4) provides the following expressions for assuming satisfactory
fatigue resistance in shear:
For

VEd ,min
VEd ,max

0:

VEd ,max
VRd ,c

0.5 0.45

VEd ,min
VRd ,c

2-1-1/( 6.78)

but limited to 0.9 for fck 50 MPa or 0.8 for fck > 50 MPa,
or, for

VEd ,min
VEd ,max

0:

VEd ,max
VRd ,c

0.5

VEd ,min
VRd ,c

2-1-1/( 6.79)

where:
VEd,max
VEd,min
VRd,c

is the design value of the maximum applied shear force


under the frequent load combination;
is the design value of the minimum applied shear force
under the frequent load combination in the cross-section
where VEd,max occurs;
is the design shear resistance from 2-2/(6.2.a).
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8.0

CONCLUSION
It is seen that Euro norms contain explicit provisions for accounting fatigue
effects in concrete structures. The fatigue assumes special significance in
the design of railway bridges, where dynamic impacts are considerable.
Therefore, it is necessary to design the new concrete bridges on Indian
Railways taking into due consideration, the fatigue effects. Since existing
IRS Concrete Bridge Code does not contain such provisions, use of Euro
norms may be considered.

9.0

REFERNCES

9.1

Proceedings of Workshop on Euro Codes, 11th to 13th Sept., 2008,


organised by Indian Concrete Institute (New Delhi Centre).\

9.2

Euro Code EN 1992-2-2

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