Full-scale evaluation of an innovative joint design between adjacent box beams

Zhengyu Liu, Brent M. Phares, Weizhuo Shi, Behrouz Shafei

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The longitudinal joints on adjacent precast, prestressed box beams used in bridge construction are vulnerable to cracking. These cracks provide a direct path for water and deleterious agents to enter the structural system, causing corrosion of the embedded steel bars and tendons. To avoid significant maintenance costs, safety concerns, or both, an innovative longitudinal joint between two adjacent box beams was designed in the current study. This joint is 6½ in. wide with roughened surfaces, filled with shrinkage compensating concrete and reinforced by steel bars. The joint was evaluated on a small-scale basis and satisfactory performance was obtained in resisting early-age cracks. In the current paper, the joint design is further evaluated through experiments on a 31 ft long specimen during the joint’s early age, and when it is subjected to multiple levels of cyclic loads. A finite element (FE) model that is capable of simulating the early-age concrete hardening was also developed and validated against the experimental data. The early-age, time-dependent stress development in the joint and at the interface of the joint and box beam was investigated using the FE model. Based on the results of laboratory tests and FE simulations, the innovative joint was found to remain crack free without the utilization of a shear key or transverse post-tensioning. The “compression-dominate” joint created by the expansive joint material and transverse reinforcing bars across the interface is expected to address the issues associated with early age, while ensuring the long-term durability and performance of box-beam bridges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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