Behrouz Shafeishafei@iastate.edu email >
Structural Engineer, BEC
Peter Taylorptaylor@iastate.edu email >
Director, CP Tech Center
Brent Pharesbphares@iastate.edu email >
Bridge Research Engineer
About the research
Accelerated bridge construction (ABC) is now being widely used by departments of transportation because of the reductions of 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. One of the common techniques in ABC is using prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES). The bridge components are built outside of the construction area, transported on 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. Damaging effects due to weather are 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 the bridges.
However, there is a gap in the literature on how the long-term performance and durability concerns associated with the joints that connect already high-quality bridge elements may be addressed. One approach that has gained significant attention is to eliminate the 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 found. To address this issue, the current 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 was to provide the design guidelines and practical recommendations necessary to properly implement a link slab in the jointless bridges constructed with ABC and conventional techniques.