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Block shear failure of steel gusset plates



Chiara Crosti, Dat Duthinh


Following the catastrophic failure of the I-35W bridge in Minnesota in 2007, the Federal Highway Admin-istration issued guidelines for the load rating of bolted and riveted gusset plates in truss bridges (FHWA, 2009). This paper develops finite-element models capable of predicting the behavior of gusset plates in ten-sion, resulting in possible failure by block shear. Nonlinear finite-element analysis validated by experimental data confirms the safety and validity of the FHWA load rating formulas for the block shear strength of riveted and bolted gusset plates. For a variety of geometries, the Load and Resistance Factor Rating (LRFR) value produces factors of safety between 2.1 and 2.7. This study also provides guidance on the mesh density required around the holes, the application of bolt loads, and the approximation involved in modeling the perimeter holes only.
Proceedings Title
Conference Dates
July 11-15, 2010
Conference Location
Philadelphia, PA, US
Conference Title
Fifth International Conference on Bridge Maintenance, Safety and Management


block shear, FHWA Guidance, finite-element analysis, gusset plate, I-35W, load rating, load distribution, tension failure.


Crosti, C. and Duthinh, D. (2010), Block shear failure of steel gusset plates, IABMAS 2010, Philadelphia, PA, US, [online], (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created June 30, 2010, Updated October 12, 2021