Toward Successful Implementation of Prefabricated Deck Panels to Accelerate the Bridge Construction Process
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Toward Successful Implementation of Prefabricated Deck Panels to Accelerate the Bridge Construction Process

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    The development of accelerated bridge construction (ABC) techniques and connection details has become a national research focus. With the aging of the interstate system and many bridges on key routes requiring extensive rehabilitation or replacement, the economic impact of construction time has become a key factor in the design of bridges. Several states have successfully standardized the ABC approach with high rates of public satisfaction. Compared to other ABC techniques, the technologies for pre-fabricated bridge decks are relatively mature. However, this technology has not been incorporated in Nevada. The goal of this research project is to develop design guidelines and specifications on the use of pre-fabricated bridge decks for Nevada based on existing techniques. A state-of-the-art literature review summarizing existing practices for the implementation of prefabricated deck panels was prepared. This information was used to assemble a survey that was sent to representatives of all state DOTs. The survey requested information from each DOT on their experience with prefabricated deck panels, connection details that were used, and the field performance of the panels and connections. Information from the literature review and survey was used to develop design specifications and recommendations for the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). These specifications were supplemented with a design aid spreadsheet and finite element models to validate the provisions in the specifications and aid in the implementation of this technology. As part of this implementation, two design methods were developed: a simplified (design aid spreadsheet) method and a model based method. Survey results showed that full-depth prefabricated deck panels performed better and saved time compared to partial depth panels. Because of this, full-depth deck panels were the primary focus in this project. Results from the survey showed that guidelines and connection details developed by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Northeast committee (PCI, 2011a) were widely used and led to satisfactory performance. These guidelines were used as the foundation for the proposed design specifications for NDOT. Information from the survey and literature review were used to supplement the PCI guidelines and add information specific to Nevada’s needs. The guidelines were used to design full-depth deck panel systems for two existing bridges. The simplified and model based methods were applied to both design examples to determine whether the design specifications could be used to appropriately design fulldepth deck systems for different cases. The results from the two design examples showed that the full-depth deck panel systems performed as expected and could be designed using the existing AASHTO and PCI provisions. Additional modeling beyond simple hand calculations was required for skewed and curved bridges. Based on these findings, prefabricated full-depth deck panels are recommended for use in ABC projects in Nevada using the assembled design specifications and design procedures created for this project.
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