Performance of a Bridge Deck with Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) Bars as the Top Mat of Reinforcement

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this research was to investigate the effectiveness and durability of GFRP bars as reinforcement for concrete decks. Today's rapid bridge deck deterioration is calling for a replacement for steel reinforcement. The advantages of GFRP such as its high tensile strength, light weight, and resistance to corrosion make it an attractive alternative to steel.

The first objective of this research was to perform live load testing on a bridge deck reinforced with GFRP in one span and steel in the other. The results were compared to the findings from the initial testing performed one year earlier. The strains and deflections of the bridge deck were recorded and the two spans compared. Transverse stresses in the GFRP bars, girder distribution factors, and dynamic load allowances were calculated for both spans. From the live load tests, it was concluded that the GFRP-reinforced span results were within design parameters. The only concern was the increased impact factor values.

The second objective was to perform live load tests on a slab reinforced with GFRP installed at a weigh station. Two live load tests were performed approximately five months apart. Peak strains in the GFRP and steel bars were recorded and compared. The peak stresses had increased over time but were within design allowable stress limits.

The third objective of this research was to investigate the long term behavior and durability of the GFRP reinforcing bars cast in a concrete deck. The strain gauges, vibrating wire gauges, and thermocouples in the bridge deck were monitored for approximately one year using a permanent data acquisition system. Daily, monthly, and long term fluctuations in temperature and stresses were examined. It was concluded that the vibrating wire gauges were more reliable than the electrical resistance strain gauges. It was further observed that the main influence over strain changes was temperature fluctuations.



field investigation, fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) bars, bridge decks, long-term performance, degradation, reinforced concrete