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Gusset Plates in a 3rd Minnesota Bridge (Blatnik Br) are Found to be Faulty

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Dear SEA-INT Friends:

For those of you who are interested in bridges , the Minnesota DOT has just announced that the gusset plates in the Blatnik Bridge (on I-535/HW53) has gusset plate problems , which from what they have said , to me, appears to be "edge buckling" problem. This is similar to what was photographed in 2003 to have occurred in I-35W bridge (collapsed on August 1, in 2007 resulting in 13 deaths and more than 100 injuries) and recently in DeSoto Bridge (closed for demolition and replacement) without any injury. The Blatnik bridge is a 1961 steel truss arch bridge about 8000 feet total length. MN DOT is planning to close certain lanes and repair/retrofit the gusset plates by adding angle stiffeners to the free edge of gusset plates.

You might wonder what s going on in Minnesota and why all these steel truss bridges are having gusset plate problems. Well, being a little bit familiar with gusset plates and steel truss bridges, this is a nation-wide problem and most likely the reason Minnesota DOT is finding out about these problems is that they are looking at their gussets!

Also, having worked on I-35W and the DeSoto bridge since last year, I feel that adding an inch or two of additional resurfacing concrete ( which was done in both cases) is not a good idea unless you check the stresses and find out that even with that additional dead load , the AASHTO factors of Safety are in place.

Sincerely

Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E., Professor and
Consultant on Structural and Earthquake Engineering and Protection of Buildings and Bridges against Blast and Impact
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