Accelerated Repair and Replacement of Expansion Joints

Project Information
Link to Latest Report: Final Report



Bridge deck expansion joints are used to allow for the movement of the bridge deck due to thermal expansion and dynamic loading. They can also prevent the passage of winter de-icing chemicals and other corrosives applied to bridge decks from penetrating and damaging substructure components of the bridge. Expansion joints are often one of the first components of a bridge deck to fail. Therefore, repairing or replacing expansion joints are essential to extend the life of any bridge. Several expansion joint replacement options have been studied in the past. However, these options typically involve extensive traffic interference and lane closure. Therefore, there is a need for accelerated replacement options and techniques, especially in areas with high AADT and limited time for lane closures.

The objectives of this research are to: (1) conduct a literature review on repair and replacement of bridge deck expansion joints; (2) develop methods for accelerated bridge expansion joint repair and replacement; and (3) promote ABC for bridge deck expansion joint repair and replacement.

The following tasks will be performed to achieve the project objective:

  • Task 1 – Literature Review
    •   In this task, the research team will conduct an in-depth review, with the focus on accelerated repair and replacement of bridge deck expansion joints. Documents that will be reviewed include published literature including academic journals, international journals, trade publications, product literature and Internet web pages. The content of articles related to the research will be summarized for use in the final report and a reference list will be developed.
  • Task 2 – Develop methods for accelerated expansion joint replacement
    •  In this task, bottlenecks in the expansion joint repair and replacement process will be identified. Different methods and options for accelerated repair and replacement of common types of expansion joints will be developed by addressing the identified bottlenecks. Different demolition methods will also be evaluated. After evaluating the properties of different materials and demolition methods, methods for accelerated expansion joint repair and replacement will be developed.
  • Task 3 – Perform experimental studies to confirm constructability
    •   To confirm the constructability of the methods developed from Task 2, experimental studies will be conducted. First, expansion joints mimicking the real condition will be constructed. Next, the joint will be replaced following the methods developed from Task 2. Loading tests will be conducted on both old and new joints, and the responses from these tests will be compared.
  • Task 4 – Provide accelerated options where expansion joint elimination is feasible
    •  Eliminating deck joints instead of replacement is a suitable option for bridges with moderate length. For joints at the abutment interface, they can be relocated into the approach slab. For joints at the piers, link slabs can be implemented to eliminate the joints. Other accelerated options include beam end encasements, closure joint/diaphragm, etc.
  • Task 5 – Cost analysis of the various options
    •   With the methods for bridge deck expansion joint repair, replacement, and elimination developed in the previous tasks, the research team will conduct a comprehensive cost analysis on these options. Possible cost-saving practices and materials can be identified in the process and incorporated in the guide/manual for bridge engineers.
  • Task 6 – Develop design guide/manual for bridge engineers
    •   Based on the outcome of the first five tasks for this project, the research team will propose a guide/manual for bridge engineers. The draft guide/manual will be distributed to the TAC and several other identified potential users for review and comments. Once reviews and comments are received, the guide/manual document will be modified to its final form.
  • Task 7 – Final Research Report
    •   A research report will be completed detailing the research process, including information regarding the literature review, the development of the expansion joint repair and replacement options, the experimental studies, the comprehensive cost analysis, and the guide/manual for bridge engineers.

Research Team:
Principal Investigator:  Dr. Brent Phares
Co-Principal Investigators: Kara Ruble

Previous Progress Reports: