Understanding and Mitigating the Dynamic Behavior of RICWS and DMS Under Wind Loading


Lauren Linderman, Michele Guala, Catherine French, Dominik Schillinger, Nicole Finley, Michael Heisel, Lam Nguyen, Stein Stoter, Josh Vievering, Qiming Zhu

June 2020

Report no. MnDOT 2020-18

Dynamic Messaging Signs (DMS) and Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Signs (RICWS) are roadside signs that feature much larger and heavier signs than are typically placed on their respective support systems. The excess weight and size of these signs, in conjunction with their breakaway support systems, introduces vibration problems not seen in the past. The AASHTO 2015 LRFD Specification for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires, and Traffic Signals (SLTS) does not yet address vibration design for these nontraditional roadside signs. DMS and RICWS were instrumented in the field and numerically modeled to explore their wind-induced behavior. A dynamic numerical model was validated with experimental field data and used to evaluate the fatigue life of the DMS support system instrumented in the field. The resulting fatigue life differed significantly from the equivalent static pressure analysis prescribed in the AASHTO specification. The fatigue life of the DMS instrumented in the field was conservatively estimated to be 23.8 years. Based on data collected from a RICWS instrumented in the field and experiments done on a scaled model of the RICWS at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, vortex shedding was identified as the predominant wind phenomena acting on the RICWS structure. Three modifications were proposed to reduce the impacts of vortex shedding. The investigation of these newer sign types highlights the importance of considering the impact of dynamic behavior and vortex shedding on the structural design.

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