Shear strength and effects of HDPE plastic post-tensioning duct on a prestressed girder
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The goal of the splice girder research project 0-6652 funded by the Texas Department of Transportation is to utilize the full potential of splicing prestressed TX girders continuously. The TX girder family of beams is cost effective alone due to their simple, repetitive fabrication, but to truly optimize their potential would be to span several beams together as one continuous unit. The weight and length restrictions allowed by trucks or barges limit the prestressed beam lengths. Therefore, splicing together prestressed beams becomes the solution to the transporting obstacle. As a result, the prestressed girders will be more competitive to other bridge types such as steel I-girders, steel trapezoidal girders, cable-stayed bridges, and concrete segmental bridges. In fact, a prestressed/post-tensioned concrete bridge is preferred over steel designs in highly corrosive environments such as the coast or in snow regions where de-icing chemicals are used. In comparison, to a segmental box girder bridge, the post-tensioned prestressed bridge has reduced complexity due to fewer segments and the number of reduced joints susceptible to corrosion. The issue that arises with splicing prestressed beams is that in the process of connecting them together an opening must be made to install the post-tensioning (PT) steel strands. The openings are created by installing several steel or plastic circular ducts into the web region. Since the post-tensioning results in a reduction of the concrete web region, a modification is necessary to the shear capacity equation. The experimental study performed at the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory consisted of fabricating and testing two full-scale prestressed Tx46 girders. One girder contained a plastic post-tensioning duct with grout and steel strands installed in the web region. The other beam was a standard Tx46 beam fabricated without a duct. Both beams had a reinforced concrete deck installed with an overhang to model an actual bridge section. Furthermore, the purpose of the standard beam was to serve as a direct comparison to the beam with a duct and determine the actual reduction in shear capacity. The research and findings will include the impact of the plastic duct in the Tx46 compared to the control beam. The failure loads of the test specimens will be compared to the current 2012 AASHTO code predictions for shear design. Also, revisions to the AASHTO code will be recommended if necessary. The primary goal of this research was to improve the design and detailing of the skewed end-blocks commonly used in these beams. As U-beams had been in service for several decades without incident, it was anticipated that there would be little need for change in the design, and the findings of the research would involve a slight tweaking to improve the overall performance.