Field Instrumentation, Testing, and Long-Term Monitoring of High-Mast Lighting Towers in the State of Iowa, TR-518, 2006

(2006) Field Instrumentation, Testing, and Long-Term Monitoring of High-Mast Lighting Towers in the State of Iowa, TR-518, 2006. Transportation, Department of


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As a result of the collapse of a 140 foot high-mast lighting tower in Sioux City, Iowa in November of 2003, a thorough investigation into the behavior and design of these tall, yet relatively flexible structures was undertaken. Extensive work regarding the root cause of this failure was carried out by Robert Dexter of The University of Minnesota. Furthermore, a statewide inspection of all the high-mast towers in Iowa revealed fatigue cracks and loose anchor bolts on other existing structures. The current study was proposed to examine the static and dynamic behavior of a variety of towers in the State of Iowa utilizing field testing, specifically long-term monitoring and load testing. This report presents the results and conclusions from this project. The field work for this project was divided into two phases. Phase 1 of the project was conducted in October 2004 and focused on the dynamic properties of ten different towers in Clear Lake, Ames, and Des Moines, Iowa. Of those ten, two were also instrumented to obtain stress distributions at various details and were included in a 12 month long-term monitoring study. Phase 2 of this investigation was conducted in May of 2005, in Sioux City, Iowa, and focused on determining the static and dynamic behavior of a tower similar to the one that collapsed in November 2003. Identical tests were performed on a similar tower which was retrofitted with a more substantial replacement bottom section in order to assess the effect of the retrofit. A third tower with different details was dynamically load tested to determine its dynamic characteristics, similar to the Phase 1 testing. Based on the dynamic load tests, the modal frequencies of the towers fall within the same range. Also, the damping ratios are significantly lower in the higher modes than the values suggested in the AASHTO and CAN/CSA specifications. The comparatively higher damping ratios in the first mode may be due to aerodynamic damping. These low damping ratios in combination with poor fatigue details contribute to the accumulation of a large number of damage-causing cycles. As predicted, the stresses in the original Sioux City tower are much greater than the stresses in the retrofitted towers at Sioux City. Additionally, it was found that poor installation practices which often lead to loose anchor bolts and out-of-level leveling nuts can cause high localized stresses in the towers, which can accelerate fatigue damage.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Collapse, Deformation curve, Fatigue (Mechanics), Field tests, High mast lighting, Installation, Instrumentation, Load tests, Monitoring, Retrofitting, Static and dynamic tests, Stresses, Structural analysis, Towers
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Bridges and tunnels
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Design and Construction
Transportation > Maintenance and preservation
ID Code: 20052
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 07 Jul 2015 12:23
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2015 12:23