Evaluation and analysis of decked bulb T beam bridges.
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Evaluation and analysis of decked bulb T beam bridges.

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  • Abstract:
    A new corrosion-free decked bulb T beam bridge system has been developed to overcome some of the problems

    associated with the construction of side-by-side box beam bridges such as the lack of inspection space between

    beams and the longitudinal deck cracking. The new bridge system is reinforced and prestressed with carbon

    fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) materials instead of the conventional steel reinforcement. In addition, the

    longitudinal keyways between the top flanges of the beams are grouted using ultra-high performance concrete

    (UHPC) instead of conventional non-shrink grout. The top flange of the beams with the UHPC shear key joints

    substitutes the need for a cast-in-place deck slab, a technique that saves time and labor at construction site and

    ensure the quality control of the product. Through this research project, an experimental investigation and a

    numerical analysis were conducted to confirm the superiority of the new system. The experimental investigation

    included the flexural and shear testing of five control beams and a complete bridge model as well, while the

    numerical analysis was developed, after verification, to evaluate the need for transverse post-tensioning in the

    system. Results from the experimental investigation and the numerical study indicated that the flexural and

    shear performance of the new bridge system conforms to the theoretical prediction and the UHPC shear key

    joints are sufficient to laterally distribute the loads across the bridge width. No signs of longitudinal cracks were

    observed over the shear key joints of the bridge model even when loading an exterior beam to twice its load

    carrying capacity. In addition, the CFRP reinforcement was proven to be a proper alternative to steel

    reinforcement in decked bulb T beams. No premature failure or un-predicable behavior was experienced. The

    study also showed that a transverse post-tensioning may not be necessary for the system provided that the shear

    key joints are properly constructed using UHPC. Overall, it can be concluded that decked bulb T beam bridge

    system with CFRP reinforcement and UHPC shear key joints is an excellent alternative for side-by-side box

    beam bridge system that promotes expedited construction, access to inspection, reduced maintenance work, and

    an effective approach to eliminate the longitudinal deck cracking problem.

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