About the research
Link slabs have been gaining some attention in the bridge engineering community lately. The basic link slab concept is to add/include a thin slab at the ends of the decks of two adjacent spans, allowing the spans in a multi-span bridge to act as though they were simply-supported but in the absence of a (problematic) joint. The two most promising applications for link slabs appear to be in removing deck joints from existing bridges and in eliminating the use of joints in new prefabricated element bridges (commonly known as accelerated bridge construction) that require multiple spans.
To be successful, a link slab must allow the ends of the adjacent spans to both rotate and displace, as if the attached members were simply supported. The goal of this multi-part project is to develop design details and evaluate the behavior of link slabs in new and existing bridges.
The work to be funded by the Iowa Highway Research Board will focus on the use of link slabs in rehabilitation projects. The complementary/matching project, funded by the ABC-UTC, will focus on the use of link slabs in accelerated bridge construction projects. Both projects will leverage information learned regarding material selection/design as well as the behavior of specific connection details.