BACKGROUND : New deck systems, such as steel grid and fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) on stringers and floor beams, were introduced in recent years and are now finding increased use because of their lighter weight and ability to increase live load capacity without the need for costly superstructure and substructure strengthening. Because these decks differ from conventional decks, different criteria must be stipulated for their design to ensure serviceability and performance. Also, different testing procedures may be required to evaluate and validate deck designs. Current design criteria are based on limited analytical and experimental studies that might disregard some key factors associated with the design of these new systems. Also, current testing procedures may provide appropriate guidance relative to conventional bridge decks but may not adequately address the design elements or materials used in newly developed deck systems.
In spite of their potential benefits, the use of new and innovative bridge decks is hampered by the lack of adequate information on their design criteria and appropriate testing procedures for deck evaluation. Research was needed to identify the factors that influence strength, durability, and long-term performance of bridge decks and to recommend rational design criteria and testing procedures applicable to a variety of decks. These criteria and procedures will provide highway agencies with the information necessary for evaluating bridge deck options and making rational decisions regarding their acceptance and use.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research was to recommend design criteria and testing procedures for bridge decks. These criteria and procedures were to be prepared in a format suitable for consideration and adoption by the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as part of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. The research was comcerned with steel grid decks, decks using any fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials, and other innovative bridge decks on stringers and/or floor beams.
Status: The research is complete. The unedited contractor's final report is available here (28 MB PDF file).