The Investigation of Transverse Joints and Grouts on Full Depth Concrete Bridge Deck Panels

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Virginia Tech

A set of experimental tests were performed at Virginia Tech to investigate transverse joints and blockouts on full depth concrete bridge deck panels. The joints were designed on a deck replacement project for a rural three span continuous steel girder bridge in Virginia. Two cast-in-place and four post-tensioned joints were designed and tested in cyclical loading. Each joint was tested on a full scale two girder setup in negative bending with a simulated HS-20 vehicle. The blockouts were built as hollow concrete rings filled with grout and left to shrink under ambient conditions. Thirteen combinations of different surface conditions and grouts were designed to test the bond strength between the materials. The strain profile, cracking patterns, and ponding results were measured for all specimens. A finite element analysis was performed and calibrated with the laboratory results.

The cast-in-place joints and the two post-tensioned joints with 1.15 MPa (167 psi) of initial stress experienced cracking and leaked water by the end of the tests. The two post-tensioned joints with 2.34 MPa (340 psi) initial stress kept the deck near a tensile stress of 1.5√(𝑓'c) and performed the best. These transverse joints did not leak water, did not have full depth cracking, and maintained a nearly linear strain distribution throughout the design life. Full depth deck panel may be effectively used on continuous bridges if a sufficient amount of post-tensioning force is applied to the transverse joints. The finite element model provides a design tool to estimate the post-tensioning force needed to keep the tensile stresses below the cracking limit.

The blockouts with a roughened surface or an epoxy and a grout equivalent to Five Star Highway Patch grout had the highest bond stresses, did not leak water, and had smaller cracks at the grout-concrete interface than the control samples. A minimum bond strength of 2.5√(𝑓'c) was maintained for all of the specimens with a grout equivalent to Five Star Highway Patch. A pea gravel additive in the grout reduced shrinkage and reduced the bond strength. The finite element model provides a design tool to estimate cracking at the grout-surface interface.

Bridge Deck, Bridge Joints, Post-Tensioning, Grout, Deck Panels