Fatigue-resistant Design Details for Overhead Signs, Mast-arm Signal Poles and Lighting Standards

Principal Investigator(s):

Jerome Hajjar, Former University Researcher, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


  • Robert Dexter, Former University Researcher, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

Traffic signs and signals are often supported by flexible cantilevered structures that are susceptible to wind-induced vibration and fatigue. The latest version of the design specifications published by the American Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO) now considers fatigue as a limit state. However, most of the fatigue classifications for welded details were not based on full-scale testing, and are thought to be overly conservative. This research addressed the fatigue resistance of two common mast-arm-to-pole connections used in the state of Minnesota. The resistance attained experimentally aligned with current predictions using AASHTO procedures, except for in-plane loading of box connection details. As a consequence of specimen design, a variety of tube-to-transverse plate connections were also tested using multi-sided tube cross-sections with different tube diameters, tube thicknesses, as well as base plate thicknesses. The standard tube-to-transverse plate connection exhibited Category K2 resistance, two categories lower than the E specified by AASHTO. This resistance was enhanced to Category E through impact treatment or Category E by doubling the base plate thickness. Gusset plates could not prevent cracking of the tube at the base plate, but the tips of the gusset plate exhibited Category E resistance.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2003018
  • Start date: 04/2003
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Bridge design and sensing