Fatigue cracks in early designs of trough to crossbeam connection in orthotropic steel bridge decks have occurred after less than 20 years service. The objectives of this research, which was part funded by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), were to assess the fatigue performance of more recent designs of connection and, if appropriate, to suggest design improvements. The research involved the static load testing of a full-scale bridge deck panel incorporating three different designs of connection. Specimens representing two of the connections were tested under constant amplitude fatigue loading and one type was tested under variable amplitude loading. Measurements were also made on a bridge under traffic loading to assess the effect of the bridge deck surfacing. It is concluded that none of the three designs tested, and currently in use in major European bridges, meet the 120 year design life for UK bridges when assessed by the BS5400 Code of Practice for Fatigue, ignoring the effect of the bridge deck surfacing. An 'optimised' design is suggested but will require a similar testing programme to assess its performance before being adopted for use in practice.

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