About the research
Accelerated bridge construction (ABC) is widely used by departments of transportation (DOTs) because of the reductions in traffic disruption, social cost, environmental impact, and lost time. ABC is also known to improve work-zone safety, on-site constructability, and project completion time.
A common ABC technique is the use of prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES). Bridge components are built outside of the construction area, transported to the site, and then rapidly installed. Time lost due to concrete placement, curing in the construction zone, and formwork erection/removal is reduced. Another benefit to using prefabricated structural elements is improved quality control. Damage due to weather is also minimized because elements are built in a controlled environment.
Considering the advantages of PBES, a number of research projects have been conducted on the prefabrication and installation of the main structural elements of bridges. However, there is a gap in the literature regarding how to address the long-term performance and durability concerns associated with the joints that connect high-quality bridge elements. One approach that has gained significant attention is to eliminate these joints through revised design strategies. While such strategies have been successfully developed for integral abutments used for ABC applications, no systematic study on removing the expansion joints between bridge girders has been undertaken.
To address this issue, this research project investigated the use of a flexible link slab through a comprehensive set of experimental tests and numerical simulations. The outcome of this project is design guidelines and practical recommendations for properly implementing a link slab in jointless bridges constructed using ABC and conventional techniques.