Understanding and mitigating the dynamic behavior of RICWS and DMS under wind loading

Principal Investigator(s):

Lauren Linderman, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


Project summary:

Dynamic message 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 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) 2015 Load and Resistance Factor Design (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.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2018005
  • Start date: 05/2017
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Safety, Traffic operations