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Innovative Bridge Design and Construction III
Bridge B-13-161 on I-90 With Full Depth Precast Deck Panels

Research by
F. Greg Ehmke, Scott Markowski/
Prof. Lawrence Bank, Prof. Michael Oliva
& Prof. Jeff Russell
Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering


In this research project the use of full-depth precast concrete deck panels for rapid bridge deck installation was investigated. In the course of the research laboratory tests were conducted in the Wisconsin Structures and Materials Testing Lab (WSMTL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) and plans and specifications were developed for implementing the system on a bridge on I-90 over Door Creek near Janesville, Dane County, Wisconsin. The plans and specifications were developed in cooperation with private consulting firm Alfred Benesch and Company. The plans call for the new system to be constructed to carry the eastbound lanes and a nominally identical "twin" structure built using conventional cast-in-place concrete to be constructed to carry the westbound lanes. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2005.

In general, the use of full-depth precast concrete deck panels offers an alternative to conventional cast-in-place concrete decks. These panels are constructed off-site under controlled conditions and brought to the site ready for installation. Precast concrete deck panel construction takes less time and thus creates less interruption to motorists. In most situations, the bridge can be built using only night closures, or in certain circumstances staged construction can be implemented to maintain traffic in both directions. Other advantages include increasing work zone safety by reducing the number of and exposure time of workers operating near moving traffic, and reducing environmental impacts by minimizing the site access footprint.

Each of the Door Creek Bridges has an 83' single span with 30° skew. The existing bridges are currently 40'-2" wide, however, part of the project is to widen the bridges to 64'-6". Each of the bridges currently has five 60" deep steel plate girders; three additional girders will be added to each structure in order to accommodate the widening. The plate girders are spaced at 8'-10" on center and are built up from A36 steel plates. The deck will be made to act compositely with the plate girders through the use of shear studs welded to the top flange plates. The bridges will be constructed in stages; traffic will be carried on half of each bridge while construction is occurring on the other half. This means that in additional to transverse joints between the panels there will be a longitudinal construction joint running the length of the bridge. The panels will be post-tensioned in both the longitudinal and transverse directions in order to hold them together in place.

Photo:  Half-Scale Composite Behavior Test SetupA total of 22 panel specimens (full and half-scale) were constructed and tested in WSTML in order to verify the system's strength, serviceability, and constructability. A total of 4 different tests were performed. The tests were: Edge Loading, Longitudinal Joint, Transverse Joint, and Composite Behavior. The edge loading test simulated the effect of a wheel load on the edge of the panel, which may occur during staged or night construction. The purpose of the longitudinal and transverse joint tests was to analyze performance of the longitudinal and transverse joints under bending, and to determine when bottom joint opening (cracking) occurs at different post-tensioning levels. The purpose of the composite behavior test was to analyze the composite action between the concrete deck panels and the steel plate girders using two different shear stud configurations.

The UW will continue to be involved in this project through the construction phase. Anticipated activities include keeping records of materials, labor, and equipment required to construct both bridges in order to compare the prototype system to a conventional system, monitoring the construction schedule in an effort to predict the minimum amount of time required to implement the prototype system in a rapid-construction scenario, and observing the construction activities in order to identify any problematic details and recommend revisions for future designs using this innovative system. The UW will also conduct load tests of the completed structures in order to verify the structural adequacy of the as-built structures and relate the performance of the laboratory specimens to the completed bridge.

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Wisconsin Structures & Materials Testing Laboratory
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1691

Tel: 608/265-8214
Fax: 608/265-8213
E-mail: wsmtl@engr.wisc.edu

© 2004 University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering/WSMTL