Traffic characteristics and bridge loading in South Africa

Lenner, Roman ; De Wet, Gerhard ; Viljoen, Celeste (2017-12)

CITATION: Lenner, R., De Wet, D. P. G. & Viljoen, C. 2017. Traffic characteristics and bridge loading in South Africa. Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, 59(3):4–46, doi:10.17159/2309-8775/2017/v59n4a4.

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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The loading model of the Technical Manual for Highways (TMH-7) published for bridge design in South Africa is in need of revision and simplification. The frequency of heavy vehicle loads has increased and the current application of the loading model is unnecessarily cumbersome. This paper aims to compare the heavy vehicle traffic loading of South Africa and Europe. A comparison of global internal bridge forces under the NA loading of TMH-7 and LM1 loading of Eurocode provides an indication of how current South African provision relates to the ones adopted in Europe. Above all, the traffic characteristics in South Africa are investigated in comparison to data used in development of LM1. LM1 loading generally results in higher internal forces when compared to TMH-7 loading. A direct adoption would thus imply more expensive bridges across South Africa without substantiation, considering the satisfactory past performance of existing structures. More importantly, the gross vehicle weights observed in South Africa are higher than those used for the development of LM1, indicating that the current TMH-7 distributed loading may be too low. Axle loads and their variability in South Africa are somewhat less than in Europe, so local design effects are less of a concern. It is apparent that further urgent work is required to establish a load model that reflects the current heavy vehicle traffic and predicts appropriate characteristic vertical loads.

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