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17-03 — Experiences in the Performance of Bridge Bearings And Expansion Joints Used For Highway Bridges

Damage related to bridge deck expansion joints in the United States costs agencies tens of millions of dollars each year. Damaged joints result in acceleration in deck deterioration as well as deterioration to the portion of the bridge beneath the opening that is exposed to debris and contaminants that leak through. Of specific concern below the joint in a bridge are the bridge’s bearings. A bearing assembly that is frozen or damaged due to deterioration caused by inadequate joints may overstress the bridge components below resulting in the need to implement an extremely costly repair to insure bridge safety and serviceability.

As little national work has been done in this area in almost 15 years, this scan facilitated the exchange of recent ideas and best practices for bridge bearings and expansion joint design, performance evaluation, maintenance and repair/reconstruction. Discussions included design, construction, maintenance and operations staff of state and other transportation agencies that have experienced good performance of their bridge joints and/or bearings. Details for various bridge types (i.e. materials, span arrangements, geometry) and sizes were examined.

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Scan Results and Report

Implementation and Impact

Following the scan workshop in March 2018, the scan team worked at the state, regional and national levels to advance scan findings. Highlights of these activities include:

Scan team presented findings at the TRB Committees on Bridge Preservation (AHD37), Concrete Bridges (AFF30); TRB Workshop 1080 entitled, Resilience, Safety, and Security of Bridges and Tunnels; AASHTO’s Committee on Bridges and Structures (and COBS Technical Committees, T-2 Bearings and Expansion Devices and T-20 Tunnels), the International Bridge Conference, and the Wester Bridge Engineers seminar.

The scan informed revisions to the Louisiana DOTD's Bridge Design and Evaluation Manual. These revisions were focused Part II, Vol. I, Chapter 14 - Joints and Bearings. Bridge Design Technical Memorandum BDTM No. 82 describes the revisions.

On June 18, 2020, the scan team conducted a national-level, TRB-sponsored webinar entitled, Bearing with Bridges – Bearings and Expansion Joints on Highway Bridges, which was attended by 596 participants.

Scan team members will continue to work within their own states and nationally to advance the findings of the scan as opportunities present themselves.

Scan Members

  • Bijan Khaleghi, Washington State DOT, AASHTO Chair
  • Zhengzheng “Jenny” Fu, Louisiana DOTD
  • Ed Kestory, Florida DOT
  • Ahmed N. Mongi, West Virginia DOT
  • Rebecca Nix, Utah DOT
  • Hormoz Seradj, Oregon DOT
  • Rich Zeldenrust, Washington State DOT
  • Jill Walsh, Technical Consultant, St. Martin's University
  • Linh Warren, FHWA
  • John Stanton, Subject Matter Expert, University of Washington

Workshop Participants

  • New York State DOT
  • Virginia DOT
  • Pennsylvania DOT
  • Louisiana DOT&D
  • Minnesota DOT
  • Michigan DOT
  • Caltrans
  • Oregon DOT
  • Washington State DOT
  • Texas DOT
  • Scougal Rubber
  • DS Brown
  • RJ Watson
  • Mageba
  • Watson Bowman

Left to right: Rich Zeldenrust (Washington State DOT), Ed Kestory (Florida DOT), Bijan Khaleghi (Washington State DOT), Jenny Fu (Louisiana DOT), Linh Warren (FHWA), Rebecca Nix (Utah DOT), Jill Walsh (St. Martin's University), Ahmed N. Mongi (West Virginia DOT), John Stanton (University of Washington).