Finite Element Modeling of Full Depth Precast Concrete Bridge Deck Connections in Bending and Shear

Patrick H. James

This work made publicly available electronically on May 9, 2012.


The need for reduced construction times of highway bridges has become more important recently. Precast concrete panels used for the bridge deck replacements are being used more frequently in order to achieve this reduced construction time and to also reduce the cost of the construction. Bridges can also be repaired quickly and with less cost if individual panels can be replaced when needed instead of replacing the entire bridge deck. The problem at hand is the structural integrity of these individual precast bridge deck panels. The joints in-between these panels often crack due to service stresses. These cracks expose the steel in the deck and lead to corrosion of the girders. Various transverse connections have been tested at Utah State University to address this problem. These tested connections supply post-tensioning of the panels along the joints to reduce cracking and increase flexural and shear capacity. Among these tested connections include the standard Utah Department of Transportation connections. Also several variations of a curved bolt connection have been tested. To further analyze these connections and compare with the laboratory test results, finite element models were created using the finite element software ANSYS. The finite element models were used to create load-deflection curves and figures to show failure. These were compared with the results from the laboratory testing. The finite element analyses and laboratory testing produced similar results. The new curved strand method tested in this research was found to be more satisfactory than the old curved bolt method.