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Experimental verification of a stay

cable delta frame model

&1 Parag S. Nimse PhD, PE
Former PhD Student, Department of Civil Engineering, University of
Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA
&2 Douglas K. Nims PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of
Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA
Arthur Helmicki PhD
Professor, School of Electronic and Computing Systems, University of
Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati,
Ohio, USA
&4 Victor J. Hunt PhD
Research Associate Professor, School of Electronic and Computing
Systems, University of Cincinnati Infrastructure Institute, University of
Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
1 2 3 4
The accuracy of a finite-element model depends on the assumptions made during modelling. A combined
experimental and analytical approach which uses a minimum of expensive instrumentation and construction loading
to verify the modelling assumptions and validate the mathematical model was used to study a delta frame on the
Veterans9 Glass City Skyway (VGCS). The VGCS is a twin segmental box girder cable-stayed bridge with three lanes in
each direction located in Toledo, Ohio. The delta frame is a complex and critical element of the bridge that transfers
loads from the box girders to the stay cables. It was instrumented with a sparse array of strain gauges. A small
number of strain gauges were placed in regions of expected high strain. The model was calibrated using the
prestressing loads and was used to investigate potential cracking during construction of the delta frame and was
incorporated in a larger model of the entire bridge. The accuracy of the work was confirmed by inspection for cracking
and strain measurements on the completed bridge.
A cross-sectional area (transformed) of the
bottom chord
, I
of inertia about y and z axis
, M
moment about y and z axis
P axial force in the member
, Y
distance from y and z axis respectively
s normal stress at the gauge location
1. Introduction
The Veterans9 Glass City Skyway (VGCS) (see Figure 1) is a
cable-stayed bridge on the eastern edge of downtown Toledo,
Ohio that spans the Maumee River. It carries six lanes of
interstate I 280. The bridge has a single plane of fanned stays.
It has several unique features. It is the first bridge in the USA
to have a stay cable cradle in pylon. At the time it was built, it
had the largest cable stays ever used. It is the only bridge in the
USA with stainless steel stay cable sheathing. It is the first
bridge in the world with glass panels in the pylon internally lit
by programmable light emitting diodes. It also employs delta
frames: a fairly new approach for attaching the single plane of
stays to the roadway box beams.
A research project was developed to study the construction and
service life response of the bridge. The objective was to use
instrumentation and continuous monitoring to collect mea-
surements from a limited number of critical locations on the
structure to understand the overall bridge performance. Delta
frames are critical elements in the structure of the Veterans9
Glass City Skyway (VGCS) cable-stayed bridge. Delta frames
are triangular elements contained within the concrete deck
which carry live and dead loads from the twin box segments
(see Figure 2) to the stay cables. The owner was concerned that
the lower chords of the delta frames would crack during post-
tensioning, handling and erection. These cracks would close
later when the stays were tensioned. However, it was feared
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a stay cable
delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Bridge Engineering 166 March 2013 Issue BE1
Pages 515
Paper 1000023
Received 29/06/2010 Accepted 27/07/2011
Published online 22/11/2012
Keywords: bridges/cables & tendons
proceedings ICE Publishing: All rights reserved
that the hairline cracks would provide a path for water ingress
during the 100 year design life of the bridge. Thus, cracks
during construction could result in future maintenance
problems and shorten the service life of the delta frames.
During design, the delta frames had been modelled with two-
dimensional elements. To confirm there was no cracking, the
present study was performed on one of the first delta frames
cast. Although this study was performed concurrently with the
rest of the bridge instrumentation project, the objectives of the
present study were specific to the delta frames. During this
study a more detailed three-dimensional (3D) model of the
delta frame calibrated by measuring the strains at critical
locations was developed. The calibrated model was then used
to predict surface cracking. The model predictions were
verified by strain measurement and inspection during the
post-tensioning of the delta frame.
The VGCS delta frames are difficult to model because of their
geometry, the boundary conditions associated with various
construction stages and heavy post-tensioning. The slender legs
and the massive stay anchor block and tendon anchor blocks
make it difficult accurately to determine the relative stiffnesses
of the components. With insight from a priori two-dimensional
(2D) model, a sparse instrument array was designed and a 3D
model calibrated to better estimate the actual state of the
structure. This is less expensive than a full blown instrument
suite while decreasing the uncertainty in the assumptions.
An accurate model is important because the delta frame model
will be used in a larger calibrated model of the entire bridge. A
2D design model is generally conservative and accurate enough
to proceed with the construction of the bridge, but a calibrated
model is necessary to assess the state of the bridge at the end of
construction and to assist with future maintenance.
Delta frames are an innovation that simplify construction of
the main span by supporting the twin box segments with a
single plane of stays (Figures 2 and 3). Delta frames have been
used in the Varina-Enon Bridge over James River and the
Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Bridge (Goni et al., 1999;
Pate, 2000). On the VGCS, there are 42 delta frames, one at
each end of the 20 stay cables, and two delta frames next to the
pylon that have no stays. Each delta frame weighs approxi-
mately 900 kN (100 tons). These delta frames are the largest
and most heavily loaded yet designed. The VGCS Bridge was
constructed using two methods. The backspan (Figure 3) south
of the pylon was built in five spans, using temporary piers. The
main span north of the pylon was built using the cantilever
method to avoid obstructing the navigation channel.
The loading of the delta frame changes completely from
construction to service. The major construction events in the
life of the delta frame are casting, initial post-tensioning,
erecting the delta frame into final position on the bridge, final
post-tensioning and the stressing of the stay. The initial post-
tensioning was done in a storage yard with tendons DF2, DF3
and DF1 being tensioned (Figures 4 and 5). Final post-
tensioning was done with tendon DF4 when the delta frame
was in its final position on the bridge (Figure 6). From the
initial post-tensioning until the stay is tensioned, the bottom
Figure 1. Cantilever construction in progress, VGCS cable-stayed
Shoulder lane
Southbound lanes
Bottom chord
Northbound lanes
tendon anchor block
Main span cross section
at stay anchorages
(looking upstation)
Girder centre line
Tendoncarrying arm
Stay anchor block
Centre line
survey and construction VGCS
Grinder centre line
Delta frame
Anchor keys and
segment keyways
Lane Lane
05 m
64 m
05 m 3
66 m 3
66 m 3
66 m
87 m
Figure 2. Typical arrangement of a delta frame and segments at
stay anchor locations
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
chord of the delta frame has some regions where the concrete
may experience tensile stresses. When the stay is tensioned, the
entire bottom chord goes into compression, thus eliminating
any tensile stresses. As the entire VGCS is instrumented for
long-term monitoring, the calibrated delta frame model will be
incorporated into the analytical model of the full bridge and
serve the broader purpose of supporting the maintenance of
the bridge throughout its life.
Since both stages of post-tensioning induced tension in regions
of the bottom chord (Figure 2), cracking remained a possibility.
A finite-element model of an individual delta frame was
developed and calibrated against the measured short-term
response for the first stage of post-tensioning, after which the
strain levels at this stage were checked against cracking. This
calibrated model was then used as a component of a more
complex model of the cross-section. Agreement between the
short-term strains calculated using the cross-section model and
the measured strains during the DF4 stressing confirmed the
calibration of the delta frame model. The cross-section model
was then used to check the strain level at potential cracking
locations. At this stage, the long-termstrain levels (the combined
strain levels owing to initial post-tensioning, self-weight with
delta frame in its final position and final post-tensioning) were
checked against cracking.
The following sections present descriptions of the instrumen-
tation, data collection and data processing, and discussion of
the observations. The model calibration and strain verifi-
cation process for both stages of post-tensioning is then
2. Instrumentation
The instrumentation system was designed to collect strain data
for selected loading conditions in the critical regions of the
delta frames in a form that could be used to validate the
analysis. The critical event that causes significant tension in
the bottom chord of the delta frame was tensioning of the
tendons. Tensioning of the tendons was a relatively slow event
(taking about an hour for three tendons) and the conditions of
interest were the state of strain in the bottom chord before and
after the tensioning of tendons. Therefore, a sampling rate of
15 min was used to capture the effects of interest. To reduce the
instrumentation costs, the delta frame instrumentation was
compatible with the data acquisition systems used for the
instrumentation on the rest of the bridge.
Pier 26 nb and sb
centre line
Pier 29 nb and
sb centre line
Pier 30 nb and
sb centre line
Pier 27 nb and sb
centre line
Stay cable 20b
Stay cable 20a
Cantilever span
north of the pylon
Stay 18b anchorage point
location of delta frame 18b
Typical stay
anchor point
Stay cable 1b Stay cable 1a
Pier 28 (pylon)
centre line
Back span
south of the
Figure 3. Main span of Veterans9 Glass City Skyway Bridge
Girder centre line
Girder centre line
Transverse tendons
Tendon DF2
Tendon DF1
Stay cable
Inside parapet
Stay anchor
Delta frame bottom chord
Delta frame
tendon anchor
Delta frame and
segment key ways
looking area
Centre line survey and
Tendon DF4
anchor block
Figure 4. Delta frame in final position with tendons shown
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
Since it was among the first to be cast, delta frame no.18B (the
delta frame anchoring the eighteenth stay on the back span,
Figure 3) was chosen to be instrumented. A preliminary 2D
model of the delta frame was used to identify regions of
anticipated high tensile strains in the bottom chord. The 2D
model developed simulated the DF2, DF3 and DF1 post-
tensioning. The tensioning of each tendon induces bending in
the bottom chord. The deflected shape corresponding to these
tensioning events can be seen in Figure 7. Since the long-term
goal was to monitor the delta frame through all the important
construction events up to and including the stressing of the stay
cables, the design of the instrumentation took into account the
projected behaviour of delta frame when in its final in-built
position on the bridge and subjected to the tensioning of DF4.
The gauges were located near the regions predicted to have
high tensile stresses and aligned along the length of the bottom
chord of the delta frame. The gauge configuration was sensitive
to both bending and axial deformations and the measured
strains are the sum of bending and axial strains at the gauge
The gauges used were vibrating wire gauges 4200 (embedment)
and model 4911 (sister bar) manufactured by Geokon
(Geokon, 1997). Both gauge types come equipped with built-
in thermistors for temperature monitoring and thermal
correction. The vibrating wire gauge operates on the principle
that the resonant frequency of a stretched wire changes when
the tension in the wire changes. In practice, the gauge contains
a wire stretched between two end blocks. Owing to deforma-
tion of the concrete in which the gauge is embedded, the end
blocks move relative to each other changing the tension in the
wire. Changes in frequency are measured by plucking the wire
and measuring the frequency with an electromagnetic coil. The
embedment gauge has a short gauge length (153 mm) and is
anchored by small plates at the end of the gauge. Cracks within
the gauge length or in the region of the end plate could
invalidate the readings. The sister bar has a longer gauge length
(1384 mm) and is anchored by a piece of reinforcing bar which
can span across local cracks. Therefore, cracking will not
invalidate the average strain reading of the sister bar gauges.
The short gauge length allows more accurate capture of peak
strains while the longer gauge length allows meaningful
readings in the event of cracking.
Four embedment and four sister bar gauges were used as
shown in Figure 8. The gauge locations are given in Table 1.
The gauge output includes the effects of both axial forces and
moments about the z and y axes. A pair of gauges, consisting
of one gauge of each type, was put at each elevation at each
gauged section. The redundancy of two gauges at the same
vertical location increased the probability that the tensile
strains of interest were captured. However, since both gauges
were at the same elevation, the gauges cannot capture both the
axial and bending force at a section. Therefore, the finite-
element model must be used to find the internal forces and
overall behaviour. Thus, the gauge configuration selected is a
sparse economic array that captures the desired strains, has
sufficient redundancy and can be used to verify the finite-
element model while having a low cost.
3. Data collection
Data were continuously collected at 15 min intervals using a
datalogger beginning the day when the delta frame was cast.
The only time it was interrupted was during the transfer of the
delta frame from the casting bed to the storage yard. The strain
data were collected at 15 min intervals during the initial post-
tensioning and at one-minute intervals during the final post-
tensioning. The collected data were transferred to the laptop
during periodic visits to the casting yard. Delta frame 18B was
cast on 26 September 2003, moved to storage on the 30
September 2003; initial post-tensioning was performed on 16
October 2003 and final post-tensioning completed on 9 June
Projection of DF4 on bottom chord
Projection of DF2 on bottom chord
Projection of DF3 on bottom chord
Projection of DF1 on bottom chord
North bound side South bound side
z axis
x axis
Figure 5. Projected view of delta frame bottom chord with gauge
and tendon locations
Figure 6. Delta frame on the bridge in its final position supported
with temporary beams
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
4. Support conditions
The support conditions for initial and final post-tensioning
differ. During initial post-tensioning, the delta frame was
stored in the casting yard in a horizontal position. Figure 9
shows the stored position and supports. For final post-
tensioning (DF4), the delta fame is supported so that it stands
vertically (Figure 6) in its final position on the bridge with
temporary supports. The two keys (Figures 4 and 6) at the
junction of the bottom chord and the tendon-carrying arms on
both ends of the delta frame fit into the keyways in the
segments. At the top, the delta frame is connected to the
segments through the cast-in-place median slab, Figure 4.
Seven transverse tendons run through the top flange of the
segments from the left end of the southbound segment to the
right end of the northbound segment (see Figure 4, transverse
tendons), and they go through the conduits placed inside the
stay anchor block of the delta frame. The delta frame
installation construction sequence begins with the lifting and
supporting of the delta frame into its final position, followed
by the pouring of median slab and area around the keys, then
the stressing of the transverse tendons going through stay
anchor block and ends with the tensioning of DF4.
5. Data processing
5.1 Initial post-tensioning (DF2-DF3-DF1 stressing)
During the initial post-tensioning, tendon DF2 was tensioned,
then tendon DF3 was tensioned and, finally, DF1 was tensioned.
Typical support locations
(symmetric about y axis)
Typical strain gauge location on lower
face of lower chord
Typical strain gauge location on upper
face of lower chord
Figure 7. Delta frame preliminary deformed shape (from
Chamaria, 2004)
38 m
99 m
Stay anchor block
58 m
43 m
32 m
85 m
34 m
12 m
36 m
15 m
39 m
43 m
37 m 1
37 m
12 m
02 m
32 m
52 m
22 m
32 m
61 m
26 m
Tendon anchor block
Figure 8. Delta frame elevation and plan view
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
A datum was set corresponding to strain levels at 11:00 am on
the day of initial post-tensioning. During the initial post-
tensioning, tendon DF2 (started at about 1:45 pmand completed
around 2:00 pm) was tensioned first followed by tendon DF3
(completed by 2:30 pm) and finally DF1 (completed by 2:45 pm).
The datum strains were deducted from values at 2:15 pm, 2:30
pm and 2:45 pm. Thus, the strains being studied are the short-
term elastic strains solely owing to the initial post-tensioning.
Table 2 shows the final strains (micro strain) at the end of each
15 min time step, starting from 1:45 pm to 2:45 pm. Figure 10
graphically illustrates the change in strains through time for all
the gauges, starting at 11:00 am of October 21, 2003 to 6:00 pm
of the same day. Gauge 18BVNBI failed and its response is not
5.2 Final post-tensioning (DF4 stressing)
The stressing of DF4 took place when the delta frame was
installed on the bridge. On 9 June 2006 post-tensioning started
at 4:30 pm and ended at 4:45 pm. As for the initial post-
tensioning, a datum level was set to a time corresponding to the
start of post-tensioning. Figure 11 illustrates the short-term
change in strain levels corresponding to tensioning. Here the
data collection interval was set to 1 min. Table 3 gives the
change in strain level for each gauge as a result of this activity.
Since the time difference between the datum and the final
reading for both initial and final post-tensioning was very
small, the time-dependent effects such as creep, shrinkage, and
relaxation are negligible.
Gauge co-ordinates
inches (25?4 mm )
18BVNTO 2219?31 8?38 6?75
18BSNTO 2223?63 8?75 210?25
18BVNBI 247?00 29?13 211?50
18BSNBI 244?56 28?50 8?00
18BVSTO 230?31 8?50 210?50
18BSSTO 228?06 8?25 7?50
18BVSBI 46?75 29?00 6?00
18BSSBI 44?69 29?00 211?00
Table 1. Gauge locations (see Figure 7 for orientation of the co-
ordinate axes)
Figure 9. Delta frame in storage yard in the horizontal post-
tensioning position
1:45 PM
2:15 PM
2:30 PM
18BVNTO 5?8 20?1 246?6 213?9
18BSNTO 20?1 21?9 42?7 216?8
18BSNBI 2?2 23?0 34?6 91?5
18BVSTO 21?5 273?0 227?5 230?0
18BSSTO 4?9 53?6 24?5 211?5
18BVSBI 20?2 55?8 52?5 74?3
18BSSBI 23?9 225?0 70?2 60?8
All readings in micro strain reported at gauge locations
Time readings recorded
Time tensioning completed
Sign convention: (2) compression; (+) tension
Table 2. Strain measurements during the post-tensioning
sequence DF2-DF3-DF1
Hrs: min
1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600

Figure 10. Change in strain owing to DF2-DF3-DF1 post-
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
6. Discussion
The following observations were made after processing the
data to isolate the responses of each of the post-tensioning
stages (Chamaria, 2004). Figure 5 shows that DF2 lies in the
same vertical plane as gauges 18BSNTO, 18BVSTO and
18BSSBI (average z coordinate 5 210?58 in (2270 mm)) so,
when DF2 is tensioned, these gauges go in compression owing
to the moment about the vertical axis (Myy) whereas the
gauges on the positive z-axis are in tension owing to moment
Myy (see Table 2). Since DF2 is in the arm on the south side
of the delta frame, similar effects can be seen in the north arm,
the difference being that the change in strain is smaller on the
north side. Thus, DF2 tensioning creates an unsymmetric stress
When DF3, which runs through both the north and south arms
and lies on positive side of the z-axis (Figure 5), is tensioned, it
has similar effects. Even after DF3 is tensioned, the delta frame
is still unsymmetrically post-tensioned. Since DF3 goes from
one tendon anchor block to the other, it also pushes the stay
anchor block (Figure 4) down, thus transferring the load
through the V-strut to the central part of the bottom chord
bending it downwards. As a result, the four gauges near the V-
strut show tension, and the gauges at the tendon anchor blocks
show compression (Table 2). The tensioning of DF1 leads to
symmetry in stress field owing to post-tensioning. All four
gauges at the tendon anchor blocks are in compression, and all
four gauges in the centre are in tension. After DF3, DF2 and
DF1 were tensioned, the delta frame remained on its side in the
casting yard for 18 months.
At the end of the storage period, delta frame 18B was shipped
to the site and moved into final position where DF4 was
tightened. DF4 (Figure 5) lies on the centreline in the xz plane,
so tensioning of DF4 has an effect similar to tensioning DF3.
DF4 compresses the tendon-carrying arms, moving the stay
anchor block down relative to the tendon anchor blocks,
inducing additional tension in the critical regions of the bottom
The deformation of delta frame 18B when DF4 is stressed is
constrained by the construction supports. At the deck level, the
stay anchor block is prevented from moving freely because the
median slab is in place and the transverse tendons are stressed
(Figures 4 and 6). At the bottom of the delta frame, tendon
anchor blocks are locked into the segments on both sides by
pouring concrete into the gaps in the keyways, making them
part of the segment webs on both sides. Thus, the stiffness of
the entire cross-section comes into play and the movement of
the delta frame is restricted. Despite these constraints, as
expected, the tension in all the gauges increases (Table 3). The
final deflected shaped is as shown in Figure 7.
7. Model
The finite-element model of the delta frame was calibrated
against both the initial and final post-tensioning measurements.
The finite-element analysis package Larsa 4D (Larsa, 2006) was
used to simulate the staged post-tensioning DF3-DF2-DF1 as
well as the construction sequence and subsequent final DF4
tensioning. 3D beam elements were used for these models since
Larsa can incorporate tendons only with beam elements. The
structural information, including geometry, section properties,
material properties for both concrete and non-prestressed and
post-tensioning steel, and tendon geometry including eccentri-
cities, was taken from the as-built construction drawings. Larsa
models the tendons as forces with lines of action defined relative
to the centreline of the beam. When the tendon is stressed in
Larsa, a load case of equivalent forces that the tendon would
exert on the members is generated. Where the tendons curve,
the working points and radius of curvature are input. The
construction event timing came from the post-tensioning logs

hrs: min
1525 1530 1535 1540 1545 1550
Figure 11. Change in strain owing to DF4 POST-tensioning only
Gauge Measured strains 4:45 PM Analytical strains
18BVNTO 10?2 3?8
18BSNTO 11?2 6?6
18BSNBI 23?1 27?0
18BVSTO 11?6 10?7
18BSSTO 9?1 8?9
18BVSBI 24?1 26?6
18BSSBI 25?1 27?6
All readings in micro strain reported at gauge locations.
Table 3. Measured against analytic strain immediately after DF4
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
and information provided by the contractor. Table 4 shows the
tendon tensioning log as provided by the contractor.
Since the short-term elastic strains used for calibration reflect
only the change in response of the delta frame for individual
post-tensioning events, only member stiffnesses were involved
in the analysis; member mass and long-term effects had no
For the initial post-tensioning, analytical constraints were
applied at the field support locations in the storage yard.
Figure 12 shows the model developed for the initial post-
tensioning phase. During initial post-tensioning, the delta
frame was horizontal and separate from the overall structure.
The supports were provided at the three locations, two on the
bottom chord beam elements (y, z translation constrained) and
one at the topmost point (x translation constrained). Although
the actual delta frame was stored at five degrees to the
horizontal, it was not necessary to simulate this in the model as
all the beam members contributed only stiffness, not weight.
Each of the post-tensioning stages from DF2 to DF3 to DF1
was set as a construction stage in Larsa, and a staged
construction analysis was conducted.
The effects of parameters such as the stiffness of the members
used to simulate the stay anchor block and the tendon anchor
block were observed. These particular elements of the delta
frame are critical to simulating observed response, since the
load from post-tensioning goes to bottom chord through these
elements. The star shape arrangement representing the stay
anchor block shown in Figure 12 was found to be very
sensitive. Some minor adjustments were made to simulate the
loads applied due to stressing of the tendons. The top node in
the arrangement is not the top-most point of the delta frame;
rather it is the point where the tendons DF1 and DF2 cross
each other (Figure 4). The only vertical element in the delta
frame carries this load down to the centre node of the
arrangement. The centre node is connected to the two tendon-
carrying arms with slightly curved elements. Since the tendon
path has to follow the element profile, the elements are curved
such that their radii match exactly that of the radii of tendon
DF3. The other adjustment is that these members are thicker
so that they can accommodate the radius of DF4. It was also
found that very stiff beam elements with dimensions summing
up to that of the 3D block geometry (Figure 12) accurately
simulated the measured response.
In its storage position, the delta frame was supported at three
locations (Figure 9); since the points of contact were wooden
blocks, accurately representing the support conditions in the
model was difficult. One of the support locations was the stay
anchor block and other two supports were on the bottom
chord, one about 5?18 m (17 feet) to the left from the centre
line and the other about 5?49 m (18 feet) to the right from the
centre line. As a result, the stay anchor blocks were
cantilevered from the supports. Within reasonable, physical
bounds, the analytical support conditions were varied to
optimise the fit between the analytical and measured response
to determine the final analytical support conditions. It was
found that the model output, although sensitive to support
degrees of freedom, was not sensitive to exact location.
The position and the support conditions for the final post-
tensioning of DF4 are different. For this second model, to
simulate DF4 tensioning, the delta frame was integrated into
the bridge transverse section. The delta frame model becomes
part of a larger model of the entire bridge cross-section
including additional elements, including the northbound and
southbound segments, the median slab and the additional top
No. of 0?6 inch
(15?2 mm) strands
Jacking force kips
(4?44 kN)
DF1 19 868
DF2 19 868
DF3 19 868
DF4 27 1266
Table 4. Tendon forces at the end of post-tensioning
Nodes representing
temporary support
locations while stored
in casting yard
Stay anchor
block element
Additional location 1
Additional location 2
Figure 12. Delta frame model for initial post-tensioning
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
transverse tendons (Figure 4). On site, the delta frame was
raised between the segmentally constructed southbound and
northbound back span (Figure 6), followed by pouring of the
median slab and tensioning of top transverse tendons
(Figure 4) before DF4 was tensioned. All these construction
events were modelled as different stages of construction
occurring on the same day since they happened quickly and
the time dependent effects are negligible. When the delta frame
was positioned such that the anchor keys were placed in the
keyways (Figure 6) and DF4 tensioned, the delta frame
became a part of the entire cross-section in the back span.
The parameters varied in this case were the boundary
conditions. Uncertainty in the support condition stemmed
from the fact that the cross-section model (Figure 13) is a
separate stand-alone model simulating the behaviour of the
cross-section when the cross-section will really be part of the
entire bridge model. The elements representing the DF4 anchor
block simulated the stiffness of the physical DF4 anchor block.
8. Model calibration and strain level
The finite-element model was calibrated by varying the
stiffnesses of the anchor and tendon blocks as well as the
support conditions. These parameters were varied to obtain
the best fit between the measured and analytic strains. In
correlating the analytical output from the models with the
recorded data, the following assumptions are made.
(a) The strains are recorded at the gauge location (Table 1)
which is measured at the centre of the gauge. Because the
sister bar and vibrating wire gauges integrate the strain
over their lengths, this assumption is strictly valid only as
long as the bending moment diagram is linear over the
length of the gauge. Acceptable linearity was verified by
the finite-element model.
(b) The contribution of time-dependent effects in concrete
such as creep, shrinkage, and relaxation over the
durations of post-tensioning of DF2-DF3-DF1 and DF4
are negligible.
(c) Plane sections remain plane before and after the post-
(d) Concrete is homogeneous
The short-term normal stresses were found by
1. s ~
The stresses obtained from the Larsa model were converted to
strains and were compared with the measured data. The initial
and final post-tensioning were considered separately. For
initial post-tensioning, the datum was selected as a strain level
just before the DF2 post-tensioning was started, and the final
reading corresponded to a strain level when DF1 stressing was
completed. Therefore, the isolated strain values capture the
cumulative effect of DF2 to DF1 stressing. Then parametric
changes, such as member stiffness and support conditions,
were made in the model to obtain a better fit between the
actual and analytical strains. Once an acceptable match was
obtained, this model was made a part of the second phase
model with other bridge elements and only the modulus of
elasticity was adjusted for time and the support conditions
Table 5 shows the correlation between measured strains and
analytical strains from the calibrated model after the initial
post-tensioning. Table 3 shows the correlation after DF4 is
tensioned when the delta frame was installed in the bridge. The
forces at critical sections in the calibrated model were used to
calculate the surface strains for both stages of post-tensioning.
Although there are some differences between the measured and
analytical strains, the calibrated model gave improved insight
into the potential for cracking. The calculated strains based on
the original design models had estimated that the bottom
chord of the delta frame could crack under the proposed post-
tensioning regime. Note that the differences are reduced when
the delta frame model was incorporated into the cross-section
model and results compared as can be seen in Table 3. This
verifies that the calibrated model had captured the critical
behaviour with sufficient accuracy.
Dead load surface strains for both construction events, when
the delta frame was lying flat in the storage yard and when it
was vertical during DF4 tensioning, were also calculated from
the model. Since total strain levels were required to check
Curved element for
DF4 tendon path
DF4 anchor blocks
Figure 13. Delta frame model for final post-tensioning
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
against cracking, corresponding dead load strains were added
to both the end of initial post-tensioning and the final post-
tensioning strains. Samples of concrete were taken while the
delta frame was being cast (Chamaria, 2004). The average
compressive strength was found to be 53?83 MPa (7813 psi)
and modulus of rupture 5?53 MPa (802 psi). The compressive
strength was used to calculate the modulus of elasticity as
34?89 GPa (5061?44 ksi) for the initial post-tensioning. For
final post-tensioning, the modulus was calculated based on
CEB-FIP90 (CEB, 1993) code equations. The initial post-
tensioning occurred soon after the 28 day strength test so the
test results could be used directly to calculate the modulus.
This anchors the modulus to a physical measurement. The
DF4 tensioning occurred several months later so an estimate of
the modulus corrected for time is more reasonable. Tables 3
and 5 show the strain level verification for initial and final
post-tensioning events at the gauge locations. Tables 6 and 7
show surface strains from the calibrated model owing to
combined effect of post-tensioning and self-weight. Table 7
also shows surface strains from the calibrated model for two
additional locations below the centre V shaped struts which
are more critical because they are subjected to higher tensile
strains than locations directly above or below the strain gauges
locations. The theoretical cracking strain values in Tables 6
and 7 are calculated using the modulus of rupture and modulus
of elasticity. The delta frame was also inspected in the field
after the initial post-tensioning and after the second post-
tensioning; no cracks were found.
9. Conclusion
This paper presents an example which demonstrates that a
combined analytical and sparse instrument array approach can
resolve modelling uncertainty at a moderate cost. A sparse
array of instrumentation was used to resolve uncertainties in
the modelling of the delta frame, a complex element, of a cable-
stayed bridge.
The delta frame has massive and thin parts. Estimating the
relative stiffnesses of the parts is difficult and the owner was
very averse to cracking at any stage of the life of the delta
frame. Therefore, a trial delta frame was sparsely instrumented
and calibrated against two different loading and boundary
Measured strains Analytical strains
18BVNTO 2?9 245?0 212?2 3?5 260?6 227?4
18BSNTO 21?3 44?1 215?3 24?4 48?2 230?1
18BSNBI 14?1 38?0 95?2 26?2 16?1 58?7
18BVSTO 245?2 226?5 228?8 278?0 233?0 227?8
18BSSTO 23?7 22?4 29?1 37?0 216?6 221?6
18BVSBI 28?0 55?7 77?8 35?8 37?3 61?6
18BSSBI 213?1 73?8 64?7 217?7 65?9 64?5
All readings are in micro strain reported at gauge locations.
Table 5. Comparison of measured to analytical strains for initial
Dead load
Strains owing to
initial post-tensioning Total strains
cracking strain
Required additional strain to
crack bottom chord concrete
18BVNTO 210?6 237?1 247?7 155?0 202?7
18BSNTO 13?5 240?8 227?4 155?0 182?4
18BSNBI 2?4 84?5 86?9 155?0 68?1
18BVSTO 12?7 236?3 223?6 155?0 178?6
18BSSTO 210?0 230?9 241?0 155?0 196?0
18BVSBI 2?5 83?6 86?0 155?0 69?0
18BSSBI 24?4 86?6 82?2 155?0 72?8
Table 6. Combined effect of self-weight and initial post-tensioning
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt
conditions. This resulted in a verified model with acceptable
accuracy. After calibration, this model was used to check
surface strain levels against cracking at both initial and final
post-tensioning. The prediction of no cracking on the trial
delta frame was visually confirmed when the delta frame was
As the entire VGCS is instrumented for long-term monitoring,
the calibrated model of the delta frame was used as a
component of the full bridge model. Thus, the present work
will also contribute to long-term maintenance of the VGCS.
The research was supported by Ohio Department of Trans-
portation (ODOT). The authors gratefully acknowledge the
financial support. The authors would like to thank Jeff Baker,
Mike Meier and David Geckle of ODOT for their support with
project development and the construction monitoring. The
authors would also like to thank Manuel Carballo (FIGG
Bridge Engineers, Inc.) for his technical guidance. The enthu-
siastic support from the contractor, Bilfinger Berger Civil, Inc.,
particularly, Dan Kleinhenz, was deeply appreciated. The
Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Toledo is
also gratefully acknowledged.
Chamaria BS (2004) Validation of Numerical Analysis with
Experimental Results for a Delta Frame used in Maumee
River Crossing. Masters Thesis, The University of Toledo,
CEB (Comite Euro-International du Be ton) (1993) CEB FIP
Model Code 1990. Thomas Telford, London, USA.
Geokon (1997) Geokon Inc.,
Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA (accessed 29/03/2012).
Goni JJ, Moreton AJ and Pate WD (1999) Pylon design for
concrete cable-stayed bridges, USA. Structural Engineering
International 9(1): 6366.
Larsa (2006) Larsa 4D. Larsa, New York, USA. See http:// (accessed 20/03/2012)
Pate DW (2000) Innovative design and construction of
Chesapeake and Delaware canal bridge. Proceedings of
Fifth International Bridge Engineering Conference,
Transportation Research Record, issue number 1696, pp.
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Strains owing to
initial + final
Total strains 5 self-weight +
initial+final post-tensioning
cracking strain
Required additional
strain to crack bottom
chord concrete
18BVNTO 5?45 223?56 218?11 155?00 173?11
18BSNTO 7?17 224?80 217?63 155?00 172?63
18BSNBI 7?84 132?63 140?47 155?00 14?53
18BVSTO 5?38 212?77 27?39 155?00 162?39
18BSSTO 4?59 28?77 24?18 155?00 159?18
18BVSBI 12?18 127?91 140?09 155?00 14?91
18BSSBI 11?68 132?14 143?82 155?00 11?18
Location 1 23?10 147?98 144?88 155?00 10?12
Location 2 2763 156?10 148?47 155?00 6?53
All readings in micro strain reported at the surface of bottom chord.
Table 7. Combined effect of self-weight, initial post-tensioning
and final post-tensioning
Bridge Engineering
Volume 166 Issue BE1
Experimental verification of a
stay cable delta frame model
Nimse, Nims, Helmicki and Hunt