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Highway Sign Structural Engineering software

Structural Analysis and Design

Overhead Highway Structures

Overhead sign structures

Traffic signal supports

High-mast lighting towers



The HSE highway sign structural engineering software is an automated structural program for the analysis and design of highway overhead structural sign supports, traffic signal supports, high-mast lighting towers and lampadaires.

Overhead sign structures

The software allows users to design overhead sign structures with various road sign panels such as simple panel, reinforced panel, variable message sign (VMS), walkway or secondary panel. Wind, ice and gravity loads are automatically calculated by the program.

Traffic signal supports

The software allows users to design various types of traffic light and signal mast arm structures. The program takes into consideration truck-induced gust loads and galloping force based on the frontal projected area of each traffic signal.

High-mast lighting towers

The software allows users to design various types of lighting solutions such as street lighting poles, high-mast lighting towers and lamp posts. The program takes into consideration natural wind gusts that may induce cyclic loads in lighting structures.


Online learning / Training and Webinar / HSE Webinar

Register your organization for the next available online webinar featuring the advanced capabilities of the HSE Highway Sign analysis and design software.

HSE Software Webinar

Don’t miss out on the next live webinar for the HSE Highway Sign Structural Engineering software! 

Wednesday, December 15th 2021
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (EDT)

Live webinar session
Q&A throughout the session
Unlimited participants from your organization
$499.00 USD

HSE Software - Highlighted Technical Features

Software Overview
The HSE HIGHWAY SIGN STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING Software is an automated Highway Sign Structures generation analysis and design program for latticed Highway Sign Structures, Overhead Sign Structures, Gantry structures, Cantilevers, Traffic Signals and Luminaire Support Structures.

The HSE software is a high-end parametric technology for the generation and design of various Sign Structures. It offers powerful and productive features for generating many types of latticed structural models and automated tools for determining wind and ice loads as well as any relevant design parameters such as slenderness ratios and force coefficients.

This engineering software solution is used worldwide by several notable international companies in production work for building innovative sign structures. The HSE is a robust and reliable structural software based on more than 35 years of Research and Development. The program, designed with the latest technological innovations in its field, is equipped with a sophisticated and user friendly graphical interface.
The HSE program can calculate the resistance and various design parameters of all elements of a Highway Sign Structures model according to the Canadian, American and European Steel codes.

The program supports the required specifications of the AASHTO LTS-13 ASD (6th edition), AASHTO LTS-15 LRFD (1st edition) and AISC 360-10 LRFD. The program supports the American Aluminum AA ADM-2015 (LRFD) and Aluminum AA ADM-2015 (ASD) for general structures and the Canadian aluminum codes CAN/CSA-S157.

The HIGHWAY SIGN ENGINEERING program supports ice loads, wind loads which can be defined according to various distribution methods ranging from uniform distribution and user defined distributions to sophisticated methods as the one proposed in the IEC-826 document. The ice loads and wind loads are automatically distributed to the latticed structure and to the sign panels.
Steel & Aluminum standards
· AASHTO LTS-13 ASD (6th edition)
· AASHTO LTS-15 (1st edition)
· Canadian CSA S6

· Fatigue verification according to chapter 11 of AASHTO LTS-13 (ASD) and AASHTO LTS-15 (LRFD).
· Verification of stresses according to the Constant Amplitude Fatigue Threshold (CAFT).
Loading features
· Automated self-weight
· Automated wind and ice loads
· Automated Concentrated and distributed loads
· Automated fatigue
· Thermal gradient loads
· Seismic analysis capabilities
· Automated Load combinations
Design verifications
· Structure design for compression, tension, bending, shear, torsion and warping, slenderness, deflection and fatigue.
· Anchor rods verification.
· Base plate design and verification.

Fatigue Limit State
The SAFI HSE software includes the fatigue limit states.

All fatigue parameters for the structure can be set into the highway sign wizard . The CAFT (Constant Amplitude Fatigue Threshold) or (DF)TH for infinite life for the different fatigue detail categories are found in AASHTO LTS-13 (ASD) Table and AASHTO LTS-15 (LRFD) Table

The Highway Sign Wizard  assigns these values when generating the model according to the input data. If the model has not been generated or after the model generation is done, the user can edit this table to change the fatigue parameters for the connection details for both ends of the member.


The Fatigue load combinations are required to compute the equivalent static forces and stresses range due to cyclic loading. The fatigue resistance is specified in AASHTO LTS-15 LRFD clause 11.9 and AASHTO LTS-13 ASD clause 11.9.

This main option activates the input required for fatigue verification. Depending on the type of structures, the fatigue verifications (Galloping, Natural Wind Gust, Truck-Induced Gust) may be activated or not. The user must check on the applicable fatigue loads according to its type of structure based on the requirements of the AASHTO LTS code.


The command Highway Sign Anchorages allows to define the input data for the anchorages.
The anchorage resistances and limit states are computed according to the following clauses according to the selected standard.
-AASHTO LTS-15 (LRFD) clause 5.16.3
-AASHTO LTS-13 (ASD) clauses to
The fatigue verification for the anchorage rods is also computed according to the specified allowable stress range (DF)TH.


Natural wind gust stresses result from the inherent variability in the direction and velocity of the wind induced airflow around the structure. Natural wind gusts are the most basic phenomena that may induce cyclic loads in lighting and traffic structures. It is generally applied to cantilevered and non-cantilevered overhead sign and overhead traffic signal supports.


Truck-induced gust loads are caused by the passage of trucks under traffic structures. These gusts of wind are caused by moving trucks and create both horizontal and vertical pressure on the structure. The vertical mast arm vibration results in the most critical stresses and therefore only the vertical pressures are evaluated. It is generally applied to cantilevered and non-cantilevered overhead sign and overhead traffic signal supports.
HSE Fatigue parameters
Automated Structural Models
The HSE software allows users to create different type of structures automatically. In addition, a manually made model mode is available where many different type of structures can be created including high-mast lighting towers, traffic signal roadside signs and others.

Latticed column with 4-sided latticed beam
Latticed column with 3-sided latticed beam
Pole column with 4-sided latticed beam
Pole column with 3-sided latticed beam
Pole column with flat latticed beam
Manually made models
Powerful Beam Generator
Many features for the generation of beams are available to HSE users. For example, it is possible to select different panel models (Warren, Pony Warren or Pratt) for the beam diagonals. These panel models can be reverted with the Discontinuous diagonals option.

When the invert opposite face option is unchecked, it is possible to align the arrangement of the diagonals on the opposite face of the beam. It is possible to specify different panel models for the vertical faces of the beam and for the horizontal faces of the beam. By default, horizontal panels are identical to vertical panels.

It is possible to specify different panel models for the vertical faces of the beam and for the horizontal faces of the beam. By default, horizontal panels are identical to vertical panels.

The HSE software provides various options for the interior diagonals such as:

At ends only

By default, the interior diagonals are repeated at each panel. When this option is checked, the diagonals are generated only at the segment ends.

Offset (ΔD)

The first and last interior diagonal of a segment can be offset toward the inside of the beam by a distance of ΔD.

The HSE software also allows to automatically generate beams made of single angle sections.

Polygonal Sections
In addition to all the existing section shapes (circular, rectangular, I, L, 2L, T …), the tubular polygonal sections are also available:

18-sided tube
16-sided tube
12-sided tube
8-sided tube
6-sided tube
Computation of Base Plates
The HSE software allows to compute the resistance and/or the thickness of base plates with levelling nuts.
Aluminum Structures

The program calculates the bending, compression, tension, shear and combined resistance of aluminum based on the results of a linear, P-Delta, non-linear, seismic, dynamic or moving load analysis. Singly symmetric, asymmetric and built-up section shapes are covered for all design codes.
•Aluminum design codes
• Member Attributes – Aluminum
• Bending Parameters
• Compression and Tension parameters
• Welds parameters
• Recalculate
• Redesign selected members
• Design summary


The bending resistance (Mr) of a member is calculated according to clauses 9.5.2 (resistance of the cross section) and 9.5.3 (lateral torsional buckling). The slenderness of the plates is determined according to clauses 8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.3.1, 8.3.2 and 10.2.1.

The lateral torsional buckling resistance is calculated using the general lateral torsional buckling equation. The equation presented in clause is a simplification of this general equation.


The compressive resistance (Cr) of a member is calculated according to clauses 9.4.1, 9.4.2 and 9.4.3. The slenderness of the plates is determined according to clauses 8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.3.1, 8.3.2 and 10.2.1.

The torsional buckling stress is calculated using the method presented in clause 13.3.2 of the CAN/CSA S16 code from where the equations of clauses and of the CAN/CSA-S157 code are taken (see commentary C9.4.3.3).

The compressive resistance of a built-up section is calculated according to clause 9.8.2.


The welds have an important influence on the resistance of aluminum elements. The program distinguishes two types of welds which are end welds and in-span welds. Each of these types of welds may be full (affecting the entire cross section) or partial (affecting a portion of the cross section).

In the case of full welds, R Ag, R Ix and R Iy are not used.

In the case of partial welds, ratios must be specified.
Analysis Features
FEA Finite Elements Analysis Static Analysis Linear and Nonlinear Analysis P-Delta Analysis, Natural Frequency Analysis, Static Equivalent, Seismic and Dynamic Analysis, Time-History Analysis, Modal Analysis, Spatial Objects and Spatial Loads, Buckling Analysis, Spectral Analysis, Advanced Section Stress, Torsion and Warping, Built Up Sections, Catenary Cables, Diaphragm Analysis, Notional Horizontal Loads, Loads and Load Combinations


· Automated simplified method of the building codes (NBCC and IBC).
· Seismic response spectrum, seismic time-history and dynamic time-history analysis.
· Customized response spectrums and accelerograms.
· Fully customizable analysis parameters.
· Maximal response using CQC and SRSS methods.
· Automated or user defined damping.
· Graphical display of response spectrums and accelerograms.
· User defined incidence angle of seismic loads and vertical components.
· Customized analysis and output time steps
· Time refined results can be provided for selected parts of the models.
· Automated or custom determination of the signs of deformations provided by the maximum response methods.
· Additional masses can be added to the model by way of static loads.
· Seismic loads (spectrum or accelerogram) and dynamic loads (sinusoidal, general load functions and random load functions).
· Multiple seismic and dynamic loads can be combined together in a single analysis.
· Base shear calibration according to the selected building code.
· Possibility to define several seismic loads and account for eccentricities between the center of stiffness and the center of mass.
· Graphical display of the center of stiffness and the center of mass and seismic forces at floors.
· Account for accidental eccentricities.
· Account for the I, F and R coefficients of the NBCC and IBC code in spectral and time-history analysis.


· The HSE software allows the user to create load combinations.
· A load combination results in an algebraic combination of distinct basic loads.
· Each basic load is multiplied by a load factor. The resulting load combination acts on the structure to generate a specific structural response.
· The load combination wizard in the program also allows creating load patterns.
· The load combination wizard generates load combinations according to NBCC, UBC, ASCE 7, BOCA, Eurocode and ECC.
· Loading for joints, members including concentrated, uniform, trapezoidal and thermal loads.
· Pressure or concentrated floor loads with two-way, one-way and truss distribution using triangular or quadrilateral surfaces.
· Pressure or concentrated loads on finite element plates.
· Gravity loads in any global direction calculated by the program.
· Imposed displacements at any joint.
· User defined load combinations.


The catenary cable element is a highly non-linear element used to model the catenary behavior of a cable suspended between two points under the effect of its self-weight. This formulation accounts for the non-linearity due to large displacements.
A cable has no bending, shear, compression or torsion stiffness. Due to this fact, the fixities at the ends are ignored; the cable is always treated as member acting in tension only. In the interface of the HSE, the user can create a catenary cable by associating a cable type section to a member.


Spatial objects are used to model non-structural secondary elements attached to the structure. These elements add no stiffness to the existing model. Loads applied to spatial objects are transferred to the structure through one or more attach joints. The loads are transferred using a “rigid plate” approach.

Concentrated, pressure and wind loads may be applied to spatial objects. The figures below shows a spatial object loaded vertically and horizontally attached to a cantilever column. Also, it shows the deformations and biaxial moments induced by the loads transferred by the spatial object.


The HSE software considers restrained warping for the torsion of thin-wall open sections. Notice that this phenomenon is not included in most commonly used frame analysis programs. Almost all frame programs in practice use St-Venant torsion theory ignoring the effects of restrained warping.


Direct Analysis Method (DAM) available for AISC 360-16 and AISC 360-10 standards. The options for the Stability Design Method are Direct Analysis Method (DAM) and Effective Length Method (kL).deformations and biaxial moments induced by the loads transferred by the spatial object.
Modeling Features


This wizard allows generating standard and nonstandard highway sign superstructures of type A1. The standard models are based on the typical plans of the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. These standard structures are always assumed to be made of aluminum tubes.

The required steps for creating such structures are the following:
1 – Parameters
2 – Beam dimensions
3 – Column dimensions
4 – Beam panels
5 – Column panels
6 – Pedestals
7 – End
Local coordinate systems
Linear or circular lines of constructions for model creations
Automated commands for model creation such as move, rotate, extrude, copy, attach, subdivide and others Models can be edited either graphically or by means of spreadsheets
Element can be created in batch or one by one
Elements of the models can be selected either graphically or according to a set of criterions
Persistent groups of selected objects can be created and edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
Definition of physical members Selection and edition of physical members
Definition of loading surfaces Multiple edition grids with user defined spacing, angles and labels
Powerful edition and automatic generation tools
Members can be subdivided in any number of equal segments or at specific positions
Similar connected members can be merged together Elements of the structure can be renumbered according to several criterions
Element attributes can be set graphically or by means of spreadsheets (sections, analysis parameters, rotation angles, etc.)
Element attributes can be edited in batch or element by element
Loads can be edited graphically or by means of spreadsheets
Contour lines for finite element plates with customized bounds
Wizard based geometry generation
A large number of pre-defined frames
Circular and parabolic arches
Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates
Physical elements concept to group different elements Surfaces can be used for load transfer and self-weight calculation
Surfaces can be used to simulate diaphragm effects


Wizard based geometry generation
Large number of pre-defined frames
Over 30 pre-defined trusses
Circular and parabolic arches
Cylinders and cones composed of beams and/or plates


Standard sections (CISC, AISC and European)
Custom section libraries
Non-standard sections (over 30 shapes available)
Truss and pre-tensioned cable sections
User defined section properties
Composite sections are available
Display Features
The program manages to scale the size of the various pictures including toolbar buttons in order to make the user interface easy to use on every monitor, even on very high resolution monitors.
3D solid display of all section shapes
Ultra-fast 3D visualization in wire frame or solid modes
Customized display of all graphical objects.
Partial model visualization.
Results can be displayed on screen for the whole or a part of the structure.
Results can be displayed for each element separately by means of graphics and numerical results spreadsheets.
Results can be displayed for a set of elements by means of numerical results spreadsheets.

Graphical display of seismic and dynamic analysis results
Model size limited only to the physical capacity of the computer.

Objects transparency for various components such as current selection, solid members, plates, surfaces, spatial objects, panels.

The level of transparency may be customized for each type of object from the Display Options command.

Functionalities of the HSE program allow to generate automatically detail elements in an automatically generated mesh perimeter.

These functionalities are specifically  related to the refinement area, the opening, the linear constraint and the punctual constraint.
All detail elements added to the HSE model will be automatically connected to the finite element mesh.

The mesh perimeter will also connect any elements already in the model to the mesh perimeter automatically if they are in the plane of the mesh contour.

unit systems

Metric, imperial and mixed units systems are allowed and can be modified at any time. Reports are printed according to any unit system.​

Results can be visualized either graphically or numerically.
Input data and results may be printed for the whole structure or partial structures using a graphical selection or a range of elements.
Customized list of input data and results to be printed.
Reports are available in several formats including SAFI™ reports, Microsoft Excel worksheets, Microsoft Access databases and ASCII text files.
All graphics can be printed or copied to the clipboard for use in external programs.
File Import and Data exchange
The integration of IFC in the HSE program enables importation of models from a large number of architectural and structural software.

IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is an open and neutral data format allowing the definition of related classes to all construction objects. It is dedicated to the building sector and aims to software interoperability (all editors, all applications). IFC is the most widely used protocol for information exchange and sharing between different platforms of BIM (Building Information Modeling).
AutoCAD interface to import and export models by way of a DXF file.
The SDNF (Steel Detailing Neutral File) interface exports beams, columns and braces to SDNF compatible detailing software.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Steel) interface exports beams, columns and braces to KISS compatible estimation softwares.
IFC-Architecture interface for importing models from Revit or other IFC compliant programs.
If required, members subdivision and account for physical elements will be carried out automatically The solid view of the structure may also be exported when exporting to AutoCAD.