Performance Comparison of In-Service, Full-Depth Precast Concrete Deck Panels to Cast-in-Place Decks

Link to Latest Report: Final Report
Link to: ABC-UTC Guide for Full-Depth Precast Concrete Deck Panels
Link to: Interim Report

The use of full-depth deck panels allows for accelerated construction and repair of bridge superstructures, and in some cases decreased overall project costs. These panels have been used for new construction and rehabilitation since 1965. There are several research projects that have been conducted looking into the behavior of different panel and joint details, but there is minimal published work on the performance of in-service full-depth, precast deck panels. The last study looking at the behavior of these panels was conducted in 1995 by Issa, et al.. These researchers surveyed 51 DOTs and determined 13 of them were utilizing or had utilized some type of full-depth precast deck for rehabilitation or new construction. Those responding to the survey highlighted the time savings offered by precast decks. There were some responses that noted leaking, cracking, or deterioration of the joints mainly caused by material quality or the construction procedure. This study did not compare the performance of these full-depth, precast decks with similar CIP decks.

There is a major research effort currently being undertaken to investigate the performance of in-service bridges called the Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program. The LTBP Program is developing protocols for bridge inspection and evaluation to standardize the assessment of in-service bridges. The LTBP Program has been looking at bridge decks, but their efforts have not included precast panels.

Although full-depth, precast decks have been used alongside conventional CIP decks in bridge construction since 1965, there has never been a formal study to determine if precast deck panels behave the same, better, or worse than CIP decks.

The main objectives of this project are to determine (1) the actual in-service performance of full-depth, precast deck panels compared to conventional CIP decks and (2) successful and problematic details for these members. Additionally, an industry survey will be used to understand the perspective of owners and installers of the full-depth, precast deck panels.

The above objectives will be accomplished through the following research tasks.

  • Task 1 – Collection and Analysis of NBI, LTBP, and Other Available Data
    • A comprehensive literature review will be conducted in order to gather available information related to performance of in-service bridge decks. The NBI and LTBP databases will be used as a starting point to understand general national trends related to bridge deck performance. The needed LTBP protocols will also be gathered during this task.
  • Task 2 – Industry Survey of Owners and Installers
    •   A survey will be developed and administered during the work of this task. The survey will be aimed at bridge owners (state DOTs) and installers of the precast panels (contractors)
  • Task 3 – Determine Comparison Projects
    • The objective of this task will be to select the projects to be included in the performance comparison and to begin to gather information on these bridges. The project selection process will incorporate the bridge selection methodology and clusters and corridors approach adopted by the LTBP Program
  • Task 4 – Collect Required Inspection Information
    • The objective of this task is to collect additional information for the bridges selected during Task 3. This will be limited to currently available information initially, but can be expanded to include new inspection information if additional support for the project can be obtained. Available LTBP protocols will be used when applicable to keep these efforts consistent with current FHWA activities. Inspection information will be organized to facilitate comparison of deck performance and panel and joint details.
  • Task 5 – Analysis of Inspection Information
    • The objective of this task will be to analyze the results gathered under Task 4 and both quantitatively and qualitatively compare the performance of full-depth, precast decks to the similar CIP decks. The deliverable from this task will offer side-by-side performance comparisons for the projects selected in Task 3.
  • Task 6 – Design Recommendations
    • Details on panel and joint design will be gathered during Task 2 and Task 4. The objective of this task will be to suggest panel and joint details that are performing well and are easy to assemble. Recommendations on panel or joint details to avoid will be made when possible, keeping the associated projects anonymous if possible.
  • Task 7 – Final Report
    • A final report will be prepared meeting the RITA requirements for UTC funded projects.  The content of the report will contain a detailed summary of the results from the preceding tasks and a recommendation for future phases of the project, if necessary.

Research Team:
Principal Investigators:  Dr. David Garber
Research Assistants:  Esmail Shahrokhi (PhD), Josef Ricardo (BS, 2017)

Previous Progress Reports: