Research Activities: 2003

Strut Failure Investigation of Paseo Suspension Bridge in Kansas City, Missouri




View Report:


Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation

Principal Investigators

Genda Chen and Lokesh Dharani
328 Butler-Carlton Hall
1870 Miner Circle
University of Missouri-Rolla
p(573) 341-4462
f(573) 341-4729

Student Involvement


Project Objective

The purpose of this study is to understand the plausible reason(s) why the southeastern vertical strut of the Paseo Suspension Bridge in Kansas City, MO, fractured on January 22, 2003 after nearly 50 years of service.

Project Abstract

Background and Significance of Work:

The Paseo Suspension Bridge currently supports Interstate I-29 and I-35, and US Highway 71. It carries about 94,000 vehicles every day. On January 22, 2003, the Bridge was hurriedly closed to traffic during the Wednesday afternoon rush hours when the bridge deck of south side span raised approximately 8 inches. At that time, temperatures hit a record low of 9 below zero and windchills approached 25 degrees below zero.

Understanding of the fatigue and fracture characterization of the materials used in Paseo Bridge and prediction of its failed component can shed light on the performance of a number of steel bridges over Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and therefore reduce potential failures.

Action Plan:

Collect the failed component. Cut and test specimens for various material characterizations. Estimate dead and live loads as well as thermal effects. Evaluate crack initiation life. Model the failed component. Perform crack growth analysis. Reproduce failure process. Prepare final report.

Method of Implementation:

When the failure process is reproduced and final report prepared, the Bridge Division will be notified with our findings why the southeastern strut of Paseo Bridge was fractured and recommendations that can prevent potential failures of other steel bridges.

Further details can be found in the attached research proposal.


Anticipated Benefits

The cause for the fracture failure of Paseo Bridge identified from this study would help MoDOT decide when special inspections are needed to other steel bridges. The numerical and experimental results obtained from this study can also be used to predict the remaining fatigue life of an existing steel bridge similar to Paseo Bridge in construction year.


Modal Orientation

Bridge assessment


Project Start Date:August 1, 2003
Project End Date:December 31, 2005

Relationship to other Research/Projects


Technology Transfer Activities


Transportation Research Board Keywords

Bridge assessment, bridge design, fracture, fatigue