About the research
Bridge deck expansion joints are used to allow for movement of the bridge deck due to thermal expansion, dynamic loading, and other factors. More recently, expansion joints have also been sealed to prevent winter de-icing chemicals and other corrosives applied to bridge decks from penetrating and damaging the bridge substructure components. Expansion joints are often one of the first components of a bridge deck to fail and repairing or replacing expansion joints are essential to extending the life of the bridge.
In the Phase I study, the research team focused on the current means and methods of repairing and replacing bridge deck expansion joints. Research team members visited with Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) bridge maintenance crew leaders to document methods of maintaining and repairing bridge deck expansion joints. Active joint replacement projects in Iowa were observed to document the means of replacing expansion joints that were beyond repair, as well as to identify bottlenecks in the construction process that could be modified to decrease the length of expansion joint replacement projects.
After maintenance and replacement strategies had been identified, a workshop was held at the Iowa State Institute for Transportation to develop ideas to better maintain and replace expansion joints. Maintenance strategies were included in the discussion as a way to extend the useful life of expansion joints to decrease the number of joints replaced in a year and also reduce traffic disruptions.
Through a cooperative effort with the Iowa DOT Office of Bridges and Structures, Office of Construction and Materials, District bridge maintenance crews, and contractors, the researchers on this project not only investigated and documented bridge deck expansion joint maintenance and replacement strategies, but also gathered, developed, and documented a number of ideas (from the group as well as from other state DOTs) for improvement.