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UTA Civil Engineering Receives $138K Grant to Study Box Culverts

November 5, 2004

University of Texas at Arlington Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Sayed-ali “Ali” Abolmaali has received a $138,440 grant from the American Concrete and Pipe Association (ACPA) to investigate the shear capacity of pre-cast concrete box culverts. Several nationally-recognized research centers competed to conduct the study, which will be conducted over a two-year period.

Dr. Abolmaali will be assisted by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor John H. Matthys, Civil Engineering Research Fellow Dr. Yeol Choi, Dr. Raul Fernandez of the Automation & Robotics Research Institute and civil engineering graduate students. The team will conduct numerical studies in the National Science Foundation-funded Structural Simulation Laboratory and experimental studies in the Structural Engineering Laboratory. The experimental studies will use hydraulic rams and a variety of laser sensors, some mounted on a motorized rail that traverses the length of the culvert section.

Individual and joined sections of concrete box culvert, supplied by the ACPA and each measuring 4’ by 4’ by 8’and weighing several tons, will be subjected to shear-type loading, simulating actual loading conditions. Structural members such as beams, rods and boxes are all normally subjected to bending, shear and axial loads. Shearing is especially critical at the slide joints where sections are joined. Twenty-four test specimens will be monitored for their shear behavior up to the point of failure.

A complete finite element model (FEM) of the box culverts will be developed for shear crack predictions of both single and joined sections. The FEM analysis results will then be compared with those of the experiments for validation purposes. The resulting findings of this research could be implemented in design codes for box culverts nationwide.