Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Civil Engineering

Major Professor

J. Harold Deatherage

Committee Members

Edwin Burdette, David Goodpasture, J. Stanley Rabun


This dissertation presents an overview and evaluation of an effort of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to design multispan steel girder bridges that can be erected with minimal disruption to traffic passing under the proposed spans. TDOT has developed the Pier-Plate Moment Connection in order to facilitate the accelerated construction of steel girder bridges. This connection allows the girders of a multispan steel bridge to be erected as simple spans and then to be made continuous prior to the dead load of the deck being applied. Since 2003, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee has instrumented and tested two bridges with Pier- Plate connections. The bridges were instrumented with strain gages and monitored under a variety of loading conditions.

The primary conclusions drawn from the above described research are (1) that the code specified methods for determining girder distribution factors produce conservative values, (2) that the structural contribution of concrete parapets is to stiffen the outside girders and thereby draw more load to them, and (3) that the behavior of the Pier-Plate Connection is consistent with the intent of its design.

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