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Performance of Grouted Connections for Prefabricated Bridge Deck Elements

Wednesday, January 2, 2019 - 19:30

Prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES) are integral to many accelerated bridge construction projects, and prefabricated deck panels are one of many PBES types that have gained popularity in such projects. Laboratory research and field studies have indicated the primary challenge for these systems is the design and construction of the connections, which are typically made using interlaced connector elements and field-cast grout. Poor detailing and design considerations have been shown to pose problems with deck durability, serviceability, and ultimate capacity. The objective of the research presented herein was to advance the understanding of deck-level connections between adjacent prefabricated bridge deck elements for use in accelerated bridge construction projects. Two series of experiments were conducted. The first, referred to as “Bond Characterization Testing,” utilized specimens with geometric details and loading protocols based on current ASTM standard test methods. These tests were used to study the bond behavior between precast concrete and different connection grouts. In the second set of experiments, referred to as “Deck-Level Connection Testing,” 75 large-scale deck-level connection assemblies were tested in four-point bending and subjected to three different loading protocols; namely, low-level cyclic loading meant to induce cracking, post-cracking fatigue loading, and monotonic ultimate loading. Several parameters frequently considered during the design of these connections were investigated: shear key shape, reinforcement type, connection grout material type, and precast surface preparation. Results indicate the performance of these connections is heavily influenced by the grout type, precast concrete surface preparation, and reinforcement detailing.  This report is available online at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/bridge/19003/index.cfm