Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Civil engineering

Publication Details

Transport Research Arena Europe 2010, Brussels


An examination of weigh-in-motion data collected recently at sites in five European countries has shown that vehicles with weights well in excess of the normal legal limits are found on a daily basis. These vehicles would be expected to have permits issued by the responsible authorities. It can be seen from the measurements that most of them are travelling at normal speeds. Photographic evidence indicates that, while many are accompanied by an escort vehicle, normal traffic is flowing alongside in other lanes. As European freight volume grows, the frequency of these special vehicles can be expected to increase. Hence, the probability of them meeting a heavy truck on a bridge also increases.

Gross vehicle weights in excess of 100 t have been observed at all sites, and are a daily occurrence in the Netherlands. Most of these extremely heavy vehicles are either mobile cranes or low loaders carrying construction equipment. Both types have multiple axles at very close spacing, and the gross weight and axle layout have implications for bridge loading.

This paper presents findings based on a simulation model which incorporates the load effects for all observed truck types on short to medium span bridges. It is evident that special vehicles govern the lifetime maximum bridge loading, and the occurrence of extremely heavy trucks is sufficiently frequent that meeting events can be expected during the design lives of the bridges. The effects of different management strategies for special permit vehicles are modelled and the results are presented.