Improving the design of u-beams for Indiana.
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Improving the design of u-beams for Indiana.

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    • Abstract:
      The use of prestressed U‐beams, developed as an economical and aesthetic alternative to traditional I‐beams, is becoming increasingly 

      common. While U‐beams are seeing increased use, questions have arisen in the design of bridges utilizing this girder type. Specific issues 

      include live load distribution, bridge deck behavior, and debonding limits. First, since the U‐beam is a new girder type, limited guidance 

      exists for the live load distributions to be used in design. Second, due to the increased stiffness and strength of this girder, fewer girder 

      lines  are required resulting  in  increased  deck spans.  Finally,  current AASHTO  debonding  limits severely restrict the  efficiency  and 

      economy of the section. The objective of this research program is to develop design strategies to improve the efficiency and optimize 

      the design of the Indiana modified U‐beam with a focus on the concerns related to the design of U‐beams. In particular, this research 

      program will evaluate the live load distribution appropriate for the design of U‐beams, assess the behavior and design of the bridge deck 

      when supported by U‐beams, and evaluate both the shear strength and shear design of the composite U‐beam system. It is important 

      that the strength strength of pretensioned concrete beams with debonded strand be fully evaluated. Five phases of research were 

      conducted. The first phase  consisted of evaluation of  a U‐beam bridge  constructed  in Indianapolis, Indiana to assess the  live  load 

      distribution factors and flexural deck behavior of this bridge. The second phase evaluated the effectiveness of debonding sheathing to 

      ensure that proper debonding is being achieved. The third phase evaluated the influence of the percentage of debonded strands on 

      shear strength using rectangular and I‐shaped cross sections to investigate flexure‐shear and web‐shear strengths, respectively. While 

      this phase concentrated on the shear strength resisted by the concrete, the influence of transverse reinforcement was also evaluated. 

      The fourth phase evaluated the influence of varying strength concretes, which are commonly used in composite sections, on shear 

      strength.  Finally,  the  fifth  phase  evaluated  the  shear  strength  of  a  50%  debonded  U‐beam  both  with  and  without  transverse 

      reinforcement.  From  the  results,  an  improved  understanding  of  the  influence  of  debonding  on  shear  strength  is  obtained. 

      Recommendations are provided to improve the analysis, design, and construction of U‐beams as well as the design and construction of 

      girders utilizing debonded strand in general. 

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