Impact of Specialized Hauling Vehicles on Load Rating Older, Bridge-Class, Reinforced Concrete Box Culverts

William D. Lawson, Hoyoung Seo, James G. Surles, Stephen M. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper describes the comparison of load ratings associated with application of three live load models recognized by AASHTO—AASHTO legal loads, the notional rating load including single-unit specialized hauling vehicles (SHVs), and the HL-93 design tandem live load—versus load ratings associated with application of the typical HS-20 standard truck. The test bed for this study was a statistically representative sample of Texas’ older bridge-class reinforced concrete box culvert structures. Rating factors were determined using the load factor rating method with demands calculated from a production-simplified, calibrated, two-dimensional soil–structure interaction model using linear elastic constitutive models for both concrete and soil. The study was motivated in part by research which showed that SHVs create force effects significantly greater than those from the HS-20 truck (for bridges proper), and recent federal policy mandating that states load rate their bridges for SHVs. Findings from this study indicate the standard HS-20 truck, and not SHVs or other legal or design loads, is the critical model for most culvert load rating applications. In particular, operating rating factors calculated from both the AASHTO legal loads and SHV models tend to be higher than corresponding rating factors calculated using the HS-20 standard truck, most of the time. The response is explained primarily by considering the relatively short span length of culvert structures and the load-attenuating benefit of cover soil above the culvert top slab. More detailed exploration of rating variables suggests interactions between culvert geometry, cover soil thickness, and the various types of applied vehicle loads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number41
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


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