Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Stress Concentration at Rib-to-Crossbeam Joint


In orthotropic steel decks (OSDs), the rib-to-crossbeam joint is the most vulnerable detail that has not been drawn enough attention. The failure mode of cracks initiate from the lower weld end on rib wall is governing its fatigue performance. However, relevant detail categories are still missing in prevailing codes. This paper mainly focuses on the stress concentrations at the rib-to-crossbeam joint induced by rib distortions. A series of static load tests were first performed on a full-scale OSD specimen with different weld length between the ribs and the crossbeam. Then, corresponding numerical simulations were finished. Several possibilities that may cause the differences between the measurements and the calculations are investigated. At last, fatigue assessments based on influence lines of structural hot spot stress (SHSS) are completed. Research results reveal that the measurement results of reference points for SHSS method would be very sensitive to the exact location of strain gauges. Due to the manual welding, the deviation of strain gauge positions induced by the irregular weld shape is thought to be the main reason that causes the differences between measurements and calculations. Raising the location of cope hole terminations would decrease distortional stresses. However, the influence of this parameter on fatigue lives is rather small. The fatigue lives of points along the lower weld toe are very close. Hence, the point at the middle plane of crossbeam could be used as the reference point for fatigue assessments. Meanwhile, the center between ribs could be used as the reference transverse load position for fatigue assessments of this joint.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19
Fig. 20
Fig. 21
Fig. 22
Fig. 23
Fig. 24
Fig. 25
Fig. 26
Fig. 27
Fig. 28
Fig. 29
Fig. 30
Fig. 31
Fig. 32
Fig. 33


  1. Abdelbaset, H., Cheng, B., Tian, L., et al. (2020). Reduce hot spot stresses in welded connections of orthotropic steel bridge decks by using UHPC layer: Experimental and numerical investigation. Engineering Structures, 220, 110988.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. CEN. (2005). Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures—Part 1–9: Fatigue Eurocode.

  3. CEN. (2006). Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures—Part 2: Steel Bridges Eurocode.

  4. CEN. (2003). Eurocode 1: Actions on structures—Part 2: Traffic loads on bridges Eurocode.

  5. Choi, J. H., & Kim, D. H. (2008). Stress characteristics and fatigue crack behaviour of the longitudinal rib-to-cross beam joints in an orthotropic steel deck. Advances in Structural Engineering, 11, 189–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Connor, R. J., & Fisher, J. W. (2006). Consistent approach to calculating stresses for fatigue design of welded rib-to-web connections in steel orthotropic bridge decks. Journal of Bridge Engineering, 11, 517–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Hobbacher, A. F. (2016). Recommendations for fatigue design of welded joints and components. Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Huang, Y., Zhang, Q., Bao, Y., & Bu, Y. (2019). Fatigue assessment of longitudinal rib-to-crossbeam welded joints in orthotropic steel bridge decks. Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 159, 53–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kato, K., Hanji, T., Tateishi, K., et al. (2013). Local stress behavior at closed rib to crossbeam connections in orthotropic steel bridge decks. In Procedings of 13th East Asia-Pacific Conference Structure Engineering Construction EASEC 2013.

  10. Kolstein, M. H. (2007). Fatigue classification of welded joints in orthotropic steel bridge decks. Delft: Delft University of Technology.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Leendertz, J. S. (2008). Fatigue behaviour of closed stiffener to crossbeam connections in orthotropic steel bridge decks. Delft: Delft University of Technology.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Nagy, W. (2017). Fatigue assessment of orthotropic steel decks based on fracture mechanics. Ghent: Ghent University.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Wang, B., De Backer, H., & Chen, A. (2016). An XFEM based uncertainty study on crack growth in welded joints with defects. Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics, 86, 125–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Yokozeki, K. (2017). High fatigue resistant orthotropic steel bridge decks. Tokyo: Tokyo City University.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Yokozeki, K., & Miki, C. (2016). Fatigue evaluation for longitudinal-to-transverse rib connection of orthotropic steel deck by using structural hot spot stress. Welding in the World, 60, 83–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Yokozeki, K., & Miki, C. (2017). Fatigue assessment of various types of longitudinal-to-transverse rib connection in orthotropic steel decks. Welding in the World, 61, 539–550.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Zhang, Q., Liu, Y., Bao, Y., et al. (2017). Fatigue performance of orthotropic steel-concrete composite deck with large-size longitudinal U-shaped ribs. Engineering Structures, 150, 864–874.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Zhang, Q. H., Cui, C., Bu, Y. Z., et al. (2015). Fatigue tests and fatigue assessment approaches for rib-to-diaphragm in steel orthotropic decks. Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 114, 110–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The financial support from the Chinese Scholarship Council (Grant No. 201606130111) is gratefully acknowledged.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Heng Fang.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fang, H., Iqbal, N., Van Staen, G. et al. Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Stress Concentration at Rib-to-Crossbeam Joint. Int J Steel Struct 21, 360–380 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13296-020-00443-0

Download citation


  • Orthotropic steel deck
  • Rib-to-crossbeam joint
  • Fatigue performance
  • Rib distortion
  • Stress concentration