Fatigue behaviour of toe and root stiffener cracks in stiffener-to-deck plate weld of orthotropic bridge decks

Weijian Wu (Corresponding author), Milan Veljkovic, Henk Kolstein, Johan Maljaars, Richard J.M. Pijpers

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Fatigue cracks in the stiffener-to-deck plate connections of orthotropic bridge decks, initiating from the weld toe or root and propagating into the stiffener or weld throat, are experimentally and numerically studied. A statistical analysis of the structural stress is carried out using the experimental data. Automatic welded specimens show a significantly higher fatigue resistance than manual welded ones for both details of the study. Including results in the literature, the characteristic fatigue resistances appear larger than the values in current standards and range between 100 and 160 MPa. A proposal for the fatigue resistance values is given for design purposes. The effective notch stress, averaged strain energy density factor, and fracture mechanics methods are employed to study the sensitivity of the weld toe and root cracks for different (geometrical) variations, such as the lack of weld penetration. Among them, the fracture mechanics method agrees best with the experimental data. With the increase of weld penetration ratios from 75% to 100%, the fracture mechanics predicted fatigue resistances remain approximately equal for the weld toe cracks and increase for the weld root cracks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117740
Number of pages15
JournalEngineering Structures
Early online date6 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024


  • Orthotropic bridge deck
  • Toe and root stiffener cracks
  • Fatigue resistance
  • Structural stress
  • Local assessment methods


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