About the research
The unbraced length of piles increases when scour reduces soil presence surrounding piles. The resulting increase in the unbraced length has a negative impact on the actual capacity and stability of these piles. On the other hand, the concrete encasements around piles is ignored during pile bent design and by the codified specifications and manuals, while the stiffness of the concrete encasements has a positive contribution to pile capacity and stability. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) rating engineer is sometimes asked by field personnel to make quick decisions regarding pile capacity and stability when scour is identified around bridge pile bents. To help rating engineers provide timely, realistic estimations of pile capacity, a rapid assessment tool was previously developed to quickly assess pile capacity, while taking into account the varying unbraced pile lengths and the stiffness contribution of the concrete encasements. As part of this work, a rapid assessment tool was developed based on finite element modeling results for so-called stepped piles with the modeling strategies validated against the capacities for non-encased piles calculated based on the provisions outlined in the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Steel Construction Manual. However, no experimental data was available to validate the results provided by the assessment tool for partially encased piles. The goal of this project is to conduct a series of laboratory experiments to test the capacity of piles with and without concrete encasement. The results from the proposed tests will be used to validate the calculated results provided by the assessment tool.