Shear Strength and Strength Degradation of Concrete Bridge Decks with GFRP Top Mat Reinforcement


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Virginia Tech


The primary objective of this research was to investigate the shear strength of concrete bridge decks with GFRP top-mat reinforcement. Several models currently exist to predict the shear strength during the design process; however, previous research at Virginia Tech indicates that the existing equations are overly conservative. For this research, a series of concrete decks with varying lengths were tested in a laboratory environment in a two-span continuous configuration, during which data was collected on deflections, rebar strain, crack widths, and ultimate load. It was concluded that the existing equations, particularly the guidelines of ACI 440, are grossly over-conservative for GFRP-reinforced concrete bridge decks continuous over multiple supports. It was suggested that this is due to multiple factors, including additional support provided by the typically-neglected steel reinforcement in the bottom mat and a higher shear strength of the uncracked portion of concrete due to higher compressive stresses in the section as a result of the continuous deck configuration.

The second objective of this research was to investigate the effects of environmental exposure on the composite deck and the individual GFRP rebar. Three deck specimens were subjected to differing environmental conditions, including one that was placed into service at an interstate weigh station. All three decks were tested in the same manner as those in the shear investigation. Additionally, live load tests were conducted on the weigh station deck during the time it was in place and tensile tests were conducted on rebar that were extracted from the concrete decks. In the live load testing, the GFRP strains increased by more than 200% over the period of service, which was likely due to a combination of a reduction in GFRP stiffness and a greater amount of cracking. During the laboratory tests on the decks, no clear correlation between conditioning and deflections or cracking was found. The ultimate strength actually increased with conditioning, with the weigh station specimen exhibiting the highest shear strength. Finally, the results of the rebar tensile tests suggested a decrease in both modulus of elasticity and ultimate tensile strength of the GFRP with environmental exposure when compared to unconditioned bars.



reinforced concrete, bridge decks, shear strength, fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) bars