Finite Element Modeling of Bridge Approach and Transition Slabs

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CAIT project no.: 88 03 RU933

Fiscal Year: 2000/2001

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Hani Nassif, Talat Abu-Amra, Nirali Shah

External Author(s): Nicholas Vitillo, Robert Sauber



The objective of this research study is to identify the probable causes of cracking, location of cracks, factors influencing crack development, and to recommend new design alternatives that could reduce or eliminate crack development in approach and transition slabs. The study included the development of a finite element model that is based on soil-structure interaction using commercial computer software, ABAQUS. A field study was also conducted to determine the extent and probable causes of crack development in approach and transition slabs in different bridge sites. The data collected from field observations were compared with those predicted by the finite element model to determine the reliability and the consistency of the results predicted by the finite element model. Subsequently, a parametric study was developed in order to study the sensitivity of the model to several designs as well as soil parameters. Based on the results of the finite element model, several design alternatives were studied and compared to determine their effectiveness in reducing the possibility of crack development and tolerating higher vehicular loads. Two new design alternatives are recommended based on results from the parametric study and field observations.