Plate & tube bridge deck evaluation in the deck test bed of the Troutville, Virginia, weigh station
Cousins, Thomas E.
Lesko, John J.
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This report addresses the laboratory and field performance of multi-cellular fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite bridge deck systems. We focus specifically on FRP decks produced from adhesively bonded pultrusions where the core of the deck possesses a square geometry running transversely to traffic. In laboratory tests, two schemes of loading patches were designed: a steel patch dimensioned according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Bridge Design Specifications, and a simulated tire patch constructed from an actual truck tire reinforced with silicon rubber. The stiffness, strength, and failure characteristics of the cellular FRP decks were examined using both loading patches. Our research shows that the effects of the stiffness and contact conditions of loading patches are significant. The simulated tire loading develops greater deflections given the same static load. The failure mode is localized and dominated by transverse bending failure of the composites under the simulated tire loading as compared to punching shear for the AASHTO recommended patch load. A field testing facility was designed and constructed in which FRP decks were installed, tested, and monitored to study the decks' in-service field performance. No significant loss of deck capacity was observed after field service. However, the long-term field monitoring and testing results showed that the unsupported edges (or free edges) are undesirable.