Thermal Response of Integral Abutment Bridges With Mse Walls: Numerical Analyses and a Practical Analysis Tool

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Virginia Tech

The advantages of Integral Abutment Bridges (IABs) include reduced maintenance costs and increased useful life spans. However, comprehensive and practical analysis tools for design of IABs have not been developed to account for the impacts of thermal displacements on abutment and foundation components, including the components of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls that are often used around the abutment piling.

During this research, over 65 three-dimensional numerical analyses were performed to investigate and quantify how different structural and geotechnical bridge components behave during thermal expansion and contraction of the bridge deck. In addition, separate three-dimensional numerical models were developed to evaluate the usefulness of corrugated steel pipes around the abutment piles.

The results of this research quantify the influence of design parameter variations on the effects of thermal displacement on system components, and thus provide guidelines for IAB design, where none had existed before. One of the findings is that corrugated steel pipes around abutment piles are not necessary.

One of the most important products of this research is an easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet, named IAB v2, that not only quantifies the impact of thermal displacement in the longitudinal direction, but also in the transverse direction when the abutment wall is at a skew angle to the bridge alignment. The spreadsheet accommodates seven different pile sizes, which can be oriented in weak or strong directions, with variable offset of the abutment from the MSE wall and for variable skew angles. The spreadsheet calculates the increment of displacements, forces, moments, and pressures on systems components due to thermal displacement of IABs.

Integral abutment bridges, Cyclic displacement, Skew angle, MSE wall embankment, Longitudinal and transverse loads