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Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 203219

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Design of shear connection in composite steel


and concrete bridges with precast decks
Chang-Su Shim *, Pil-Goo Lee, Sung-Pil Chang
School of Civil, Urban and Systems Engineering, Seoul National University, San 56-1, Shinlim-Dong,
Kwanak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Received 12 November 1999; received in revised form 10 August 2000; accepted 24 August 2000

Abstract
For the design of the shear connection in steelconcrete composite bridges with precast
decks, design considerations were discussed, and experimental works on the push tests and
the bridge model test were performed. The characteristics of the shear connection in a precast
deck system are the filling material in shear pockets and the bedding layer between the precast
deck and the steel girder. Also, it is necessary to evaluate the structural behavior of the shear
connection in case of uniformly distributed shear connectors through experiments.
Based on the push tests, the behavior of the shear connection in a precast deck was discussed. In addition, the ultimate strength and the fatigue endurance of the shear connection
were estimated. As the thickness of the bedding layer increases, the ultimate strength decreases.
The shear load redistribution between shear connectors was verified through the experiment
on the bridge model, and shear connectors can therefore be distributed uniformly along the
span. Using the experimental results and the finite element analysis based on the partial interaction theory, the shear stiffness of the shear connection and the flexural stiffness of the bridge
were evaluated. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Shear connection; Composite bridge; Precast deck; Design; Bedding layer; Filling material

1. Introduction
For the rapid replacement of the deteriorated concrete deck in steelconcrete composite bridges, the precast concrete deck system is very attractive and has been
widely used in several countries. Also, the system can be applied to the new construc* Corresponding author. Tel.: +82-2-880-7355; fax: +82-2-887-0349.
E-mail address: scs517@snu.ac.kr (C.-S. Shim).
0143-974X/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 1 4 3 - 9 7 4 X ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 1 8 - 3

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Nomenclature
Ash
a
Bh
dsh
ds
Em
fsu
N
Qu
sr

cross-sectional area of the stud shank


reduction factor considering bedding layer
bedding thickness
diameter of the stud shank
slip as a proportion of the diameter of the shank of the stud
the modulus of elasticity of mortar
tensile strength of the stud
number of fatigue loading at failure
static strength of the stud shear connection
stress range

tion of composite bridges, which have fewer steel girders and a wide spanning bridge
deck. Because the precast deck system needs no framework in place and can save
construction time, it can be applied especially to construction sites in the mountains,
sea, and crowded cities. In the case of the replacement of a deteriorated concrete
deck of a bridge located in a city, this system can minimize the traffic interference.
There are two types of precast deck system, half-depth and full-depth, and in this
paper, the full-depth precast deck system is considered. Design consideration should
be concentrated on the shear connection such as the bedding layer between the precast deck and the steel girder, and the transverse joints between the precast decks.
The filling material in the joints and the bedding layer is non-shrinkable mortar, and
the shear connector is a stud connector, which is commonly used and can be installed
in a narrow shear pocket.
For the design of shear connection in full-depth precast deck bridges, it is necessary to evaluate the ultimate strength and the fatigue endurance of the shear connection through experiments. Also, in the case of uniform distribution along the span,
which is necessary from an economic aspect in the precast deck system, the behavior
of the shear connection is to be investigated. In this paper, empirical equations for
the design of the shear connection are suggested through experimental works. Also,
design considerations are discussed.

2. Design considerations and previous research


2.1. Design considerations
Precast deck bridge systems are used for the replacement of deteriorated bridge
decks more frequently than a new construction. In the case of replacement, the precast decks should be designed considering the change of girder section and the connection details of the existing bridge. Therefore, a bedding layer is inevitable, and

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Fig. 1. Full-depth precast deck system.

the thickness of the layer should be determined by the configuration of the existing
bridge. Also, it is necessary to evaluate the effect of the bedding layer on the behavior
of the shear connection in precast decks.
An overview of the system in this paper is shown in Fig. 1. The precast deck
system requires a step-by-step construction sequence, such as: (1) removing the
deteriorated bridge decks; (2) preparing the girders, placing the rubber strips and
spacers; (3) positioning the precast decks; (4) filling the transverse joints with grout;
(5) applying longitudinal post-tensioning; (6) filling the bedding layer and the pockets
for stud shear connectors with non-shrink mortar.
Some considerations for the design of the shear connection can be discussed by
example of actual bridge rehabilitation. Fig. 2 shows the cross section of a simply
supported bridge with a 40-m span. For the design of precast decks in this bridge,
the following considerations should be made: the transverse slope, as shown in Fig.
2(a); the change of girder section along the span, such as the change of the upper
flange thickness (tFuf in Fig. 2(b)); and the connection details, such as the bolting

Fig. 2.

Design considerations. (a) Bridge section, (b) longitudinal section.

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and the splicing. These bridge configurations can be reflected in designing the bedding layer and the hunch. In order to adjust the bridge deck elevation, the transverse
slope and the change of section can be reflected in the height of the hunch, but
connection details can only be reflected in the thickness of the bedding layer. Also,
it is necessary to reduce the change of mold for precast decks, considering the economic point of view. Therefore, the effect of the bedding layer on the behavior of
the shear connection should be evaluated through experimental works.

2.2. Previous research

Several experiments were performed to build the design basis of the shear connection in a precast concrete bridge system [69]. The evaluation of shear connection
is usually done by push tests. From previous studies on the push test, the ultimate
strength of the shear connection mainly depends on the material properties of the
concrete, such as compressive strength, elastic modulus [1,2], and shank area and
tensile strength of the stud [1]. In the case of high compressive strength of the
concrete, the ultimate strength of the shear connection is expressed as a function of
the tensile strength of the stud Ashfsu, in AASHTO LRFD and EUROCODE-4 [3,4].
Experimental and analytical studies on the connections, the transverse joints and
the shear connection, are required to build a design basis for a composite bridge
with precast decks. The precast deck system in this paper needs longitudinal prestress
to prevent cracks in the transverse joints. Experiments were performed to determine
the effective longitudinal prestress, considering interface and fatigue behavior [5].
Push tests were performed to evaluate the ultimate strength of the shear connection
in a precast deck considering the compressive strength of the non-shrink mortar in
the shear pocket of the studs [6,7]. From the results of the push tests, the ultimate
strength of the shear connection is mainly affected by the shank diameter of the
stud. However, the compressive strength of the mortar, which is greater than 54.88
MPa, has negligible effect on the ultimate strength. Therefore, the empirical equation
is suggested as:
Qu9.971dsh66.061

(1)

where Qu is the the ultimate strength of the shear connection (kN), and dsh is the
shank diameter of the stud (mm).
The relationship between the elastic modulus and the compressive strength of the
mortar was estimated through several tests, and the empirical equation for shear
stiffness of the shear connection was suggested from the loadslip curves of push
tests [8,9]. Experiments on composite beams showed the capacity of shear load redistribution between studs through the fatigue test [9]. Experimental studies on shear
connection in a precast deck also show that the effect of the bedding layer on the
behavior of the shear connection is important. Therefore, additional push tests with
various bedding thickness are performed and the results are presented in this paper.

C.-S. Shim et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 203219

Fig. 3.

207

Push specimen.

3. Ultimate strength of stud shear connection


3.1. Behavior of stud shear connection
The failure mode on the push specimen, as shown in Fig. 3, gives two important
characteristics of the shear connection in the precast deck. One is that cracks such
as ripping, splitting, and herringbone cracks occurred at the bedding layer at a relatively low load level. Fig. 4(a) shows the crack pattern at the bedding layer. The
bearing zone behind the stud is lost because of the crack, so that the flexural deformation at the upper part of the weld collar becomes larger. The other charactersitic

Fig. 4. Failure mode of stud shear connection. (a) Crack pattern in bedding layer, (b) deformed shape
of stud after failure.

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Fig. 5.

Strain at stud shank.

is that the deformation capacity of the shear connection is greater than that in the
case of a cast-in-place concrete deck. Fig. 4(b) shows the deformed shape of the
stud after removing the deck.
The flexural strain 15 mm above the bottom of the stud is measured as shown in
Fig. 5. When cracks occur at the bedding layer, strain at the stud becomes tensile
immediately. Therefore, the bedding layer has a considerable effect on the behavior
of the shear connection in a precast deck.
3.2. Ultimate strength
The parameters considered in the tests are the diameter of the stud, the compressive
strength of the mortar, and the thickness of thebedding layer, as presented in Table
1. Shear pockets are placed in the precast slab for the installation of the stud connectors, and two stud connectors are installed longitudinally in each concrete slab. The
Table 1
Push specimen for static tests
Parameter

Specimen

Shank diameter B-13


B-16
B-19
B-22
Compressive
A-19
strength of
mortar (cube)
C-19
Bedding height D-0
D-40

Number of
specimen

Shank diameter Compressive


Bedding height
(mm)
strength of
(mm)
mortar (N/mm2)

2
2
4
2
4

13
16
19
22
19

4
3
3

19

61.09

20

54.88

20

71.38
55.48

0
40

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209

height of the stud is 150 mm and its tensile strength is 450 MPa. The dimension of
the steel beam is 300300 mm2, and the thickness of the flange is 15 mm.
It has been shown that the casting direction of the concrete around the stud connectors influences the static strength of the shear connection due to the bleeding of the
concrete. Therefore, in order to match the casting direction of the concrete in actual
steelconcrete composite bridges, specimens are made as follows. First, the web of
the H-shaped beam is cut into two parts, and then both flanges of the beam are
placed upwards. The studs are then welded to steel flanges and precast slabs are
placed on rubber strips attached to the edges of the steel flanges. Shear pockets are
then filled with non-shrink mortar simultaneously to make sure that each constituent
has the same properties. Spacers of the specified thickness are put on the flange to
ensure the thickness of the bedding layer. After curing, both flanges with slabs are
connected into one I-section to form a push-out specimen, as shown in Fig. 3. The
flange surfaces of the steel beam are lubricated using oil to remove the bond between
the mortar and the steel beam.
The results of the push tests are presented in Fig. 6. The failure mode of the shear
connection is the shear failure of the stud. As shown in Fig. 6, the ultimate strength
is mainly dependent on the stud shank area and is negligibly affected by the compressive strength of the mortar. Therefore, the empirical equation of the ultimate
strength is suggested as (2). The bedding layer also has a significant effect on the
ultimate strength, and its effect is considered in the empirical equation (3). The
bedding layer is thin and has no reinforcement. Therefore, it is too weak to take on
the role of bearing zone. The layer is easily cracked at relatively low load. Therefore,
it is good enough to deduce the linear relationships over the 040 mm range from
a practical point of view. The ultimate strength of the shear connection in a precast
deck is 75101% of the tensile strength of the stud.
Qua(0.362Ash18.714)

(2)

a10.0086(Bh20)

(3)

Here, Qu is the ultimate strength of the shear connection (kN), Ash is the area of the
stud shank (mm2), a is the reduction factor considering the bedding layer, and Bh
is the bedding thickness (mm).

Fig. 6. Ultimate strength of shear connection. (a) Shank diameter, (b) compressive strength, (c) bedding height.

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4. Fatigue endurance of stud shear connection


4.1. Fatigue behavior
Fatigue tests on push specimens with a 20-mm bedding layer are performed to
estimate the fatigue endurance of the shear connection in a precast deck. In an actual
situation, the thickness of the bedding layer is generally about 20 mm. Push specimens are presented in Table 2. Mortars with three different compressive strengths
are used to fill the shear pockets, which are expressed as A, B, C series in this paper.
In evaluating the shear stiffness of the shear connection, two aspects should be
considered. One is the secant stiffness considering residual slip, and the other is the
tangential stiffness. As the range of shear load increases, the residual slip increases.
After some cycles of fatigue loading, the residual slip increases abruptly. Therefore,
the secant stiffness of the shear connection increases during fatigue tests, due to the
residual slip [8]. However, the tangential stiffness of the shear connection is nearly
constant during fatigue tests [7,9].
4.2. Fatigue endurance
Fig. 7 shows the fatigue endurance of the shear connection obtained from fatigue
tests. Based on the results, the empirical equation of the fatigue endurance is suggested as (4). The correlation of the equation is 0.87. Fatigue tests on push specimens
of various bedding thickness have not been performed yet. Therefore, further experiments for the effect of bedding thickness are necessary on the fatigue endurance of
shear connections in a precast deck.
log10 N7.88690.021sr

(4)

Here, N is the number of loadings and sr is the stress range of the stud shear connector (MPa).

Table 2
Fatigue tests
Specimen

Compressive strength
of mortar (MPa)

Maximum load
(kN)

Minimum load
(kN)

Stress range (MPa)

F150A
F170A
F130B
F150B
F180B
F130C
F150C
F180C
F180C

54.88
54.88
61.09
61.09
61.09
71.38
71.38
71.38
71.38

36.75
41.65
31.85
36.75
44.10
31.85
36.75
44.10
44.10

1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255
1.255

125.2
142.5
107.9
125.2
151.1
107.9
125.2
151.1
151.1

(A series)
(A series)
(B series)
(B series)
(B series)
(C series)
(C series)
(C series)
(C series)

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Fig. 7.

211

Fatigue endurance of shear connection.

5. Experimental works on composite bridge model


5.1. Distribution of stud shear connectors
Regarding the characteristics of the precast deck bridge system, it is favorable to
distribute the shear pockets for studs uniformly. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the capability of shear load redistribution between shear connectors in shear
span. Generally, a stud connector is considered as a flexible shear connector, and
this is confirmed through the push tests mentioned above. Shear connection in a
precast deck has greater slip capacity than that in a cast-in-place concrete deck. It
is possible to distribute the shear connectors uniformly in a simply supported bridge
because the longitudinal shear by live load is nearly constant along the shear span.
However, considering temperature and shrinkage, it is advantageous to install the
shear connectors nearer to the support.
To evaluate the shear stiffness of the shear connection in precast decks and the
flexural stiffness of a composite bridge, a simply supported composite bridge model
with seven precast decks is fabricated. Also, a finite element model was constructed
considering partial interaction, and its results are compared with those of the experiment.
5.2. Bridge model details
A composite bridge model with two steel girders is designed and fabricated to
investigate the static and fatigue behavior of shear connection and its effects on the
flexural stiffness of the bridge. The model is a 8.0-m spanning, simply supported
bridge with seven precast decks, as shown in Fig. 8. A stud, 19150 mm2, is used
as the shear connector and three studs per pocket were distributed uniformly 400 m
apart. In order to eliminate the effect of prestressed compression in the precast slab
on the steel beam, composite action was achieved by filling the shear pocket of the

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Fig. 8.

Bridge model. (a) Section, (b) precast panel, (c) steel details.

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213

stud connectors with mortar after introducing longitudinal prestress. The degree of
shear connection, defined as the strength of the shear connection in a shear span, as
a proportion of the strength required for full shear connection, was anticipated to be
1.11 [10].
5.3. Material properties
Several materials were used in the bridge model, such as concrete, mortar,
reinforcement, studs, prestressing tendons. The material properties of each material
are listed in Table 3. The elastic modulus for the concrete and mortar is evaluated
through 100200 mm2 cylinder tests. Tension tests for reinforcement and studs are
also performed.
5.4. Fabrication of bridge model
Procedures for the fabrication of the bridge model are summarized here. Firstly,
precast decks are prefabricated in a precast-plant and are steam-cured for 24 h and
then air-cured for more than a month. Strips, which act as fillers, are attached at the
end surfaces of the precast panels. Stud shear connectors are welded on the upper
flanges of the steel beams, which are located on the supports. Rubber strips, used
for the bedding layer, are also attached on the upper flanges of the steel beams.
Then, precast decks are installed on the steel beams and the transverse joints between
precast decks are filled with non-shrinkable mortar. When the compressive strength
of the mortar is greater than that of the precast concrete, longitudinal prestress is
introduced, balancing the prestressing forces in the precast deck transversely. Then,
block-outs for stud connectors are filled with non-shrinkable mortar, and composite
action is achieved when the mortar has its design strength. Treatments, pouring and
curing, are performed carefully when the connections are filled with the mortar. Fig.
9 shows the completed bridge model.

Table 3
Material properties
Material

Property

Average value

Precast deck concrete

Compressive strength
Elastic modulus
Compressive strength
Elastic modulus
Compressive strength
Elastic modulus
Tensile strength
Tensile strength
Tensile strength
Elastic modulus

42.0 MPa
2.36104 MPa
30.0 MPa
1.80104 MPa
33.0 MPa
1.86104 MPa
503.0 MPa
549.0 MPa
552 kN
1.9105 MPa

Mortar

Transverse joint
Shear pocket

Stud
Reinforcement
Prestressing tendon (d=24.3 mm)

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Fig. 9.

Completed bridge model.

5.5. Test setup and measurements


The test specimen is placed simply on the supporting structures. The concentrated
load is applied through a steel plate bearing on a neoprene pad. The contact area is
modeled as a 200500 mm2 rectangle, which represents the contact area of a rear
tire of a heavy truck. Load is applied using an MTS closed loop electro-hydraulic
testing system. Static tests are performed by applying the truck load in the form of
equal concentrated forces, and two-point concentrated loads of 250 kN are applied
at the mid-span and the applied load is measured and controlled by a load cell and
a hydraulic pressure transducer, which are integral parts of the hydraulic loading
system. Fatigue load testing is performed in an effort to investigate the adequacy of
the connections under cyclic loading. The bridge model is subjected to two million
load cycles of simulated serviceable truck loading. Then the ultimate load test is
carried out to investigate the adequacy of the shear connections under ultimate
load conditions.
Vertical deflections and slips are measured at several points of the bridge model,
as shown in Fig. 10. Longitudinal strains in the studs at 20 mm above the root of
the stud were measured to estimate the relative connector loads. The prestressing
force is also measured at a anchorage by a center-hole type load cell. Electrical
resistance strain gages are mounted on the steel beam, the surface of the concrete
panel, and the stud connectors to measure the strain, as presented in Fig. 10.
During the fatigue tests, deflections and strains are measured frequently to observe
the behavior of the test specimen. The measured data are recorded electronically
using a digital voltmeter connected to a reed-type scanner, controlled by a microcomputer. Crack growth and widths are also carefully observed. During the tests, crack

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215

Fig. 10. Measurements.

occurrences and leakage in the connections, shear connections and transverse joints,
are carefully observed.
5.6. Finite element analysis
Partial interaction theory considering the shear stiffness of the shear connection
is used for the analysis of the composite beam. The assumptions used in the finite
element model of the composite beam are as follows: (1) the shear connection is
continuous and uniform along the beam; (2) plane sections remain plane in the slab
and beam respectively; (3) no separation takes place at the interface. The composite
beam element has 12 degrees of freedom, as shown in Fig. 11, and the program can
consider the strainstress curves of steel and concrete, and the loadslip curve of
the shear connection, respectively.
The shear stiffness of the shear connection in a composite bridge and the flexural
stiffness of the bridge are evaluated from linear elastic analysis using the results of
the experiment, such as deflection and slip. The shear stiffness obtained from the
bridge model is compared with that from the push tests. The results of the experiment
will be compared with those of the analysis in the following sections.
5.7. Behavior of shear connection
The results of the initial static test, deflections and slips indicate that the shear
connection behavior of the bridge can be considered as full interaction on comparison
with the results of the finite element analysis, as shown in Figs. 12 and 13. The
shear stiffness of the shear connection, obtained from the finite element analysis
presented in Fig. 11 using the results of the experiment, is infinite.
After the shear load at the interface of the steel beam and the concrete slab over-

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Fig. 11. Finite element model for composite beam.

Fig. 12.

Loaddeflection curve.

comes bonding and friction forces, the behavior of the shear connection can be considered as partial interaction. From the deflection data, the flexural stiffness of the
bridge is reduced up to 13.8% of the initial value, as presented in Fig. 12. Fig. 13
indicates that the slip increases as the load increases after the bonding is broken and
also shows that the slip does not occur until the shear force at the interface overcomes
the frictional resistance. From the results of stress at the stud, before bonding or
frictional resistance is overcome, the shear loads on the stud are very small, as shown
in Fig. 14. The magnitude of shear load on each stud is different because each shear
connection does not have the same shear stiffness. If the fatigue loads are applied
to the shear connection, stiffer shear connection will be damaged first and the shear
load will be transferred to other shear connections, i.e. shear load redistribution.

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Fig. 13.

Fig. 14.

217

Loadslip curve.

Strain at stud shank. (a) Load-stress curves before and after bonding is broken, (b) friction effect.

After the shear load overcomes the frictional resistance, the tangential stiffness of
the shear connection evaluated from finite element analysis using the slip data, neglecting residual slip, is 150 kN/mm. The shear stiffness obtained from the results of
the push tests is 171 kN/mm [9], about 10% difference. Therefore, the shear stiffness
obtained from the push tests can be used in finite element analysis using partial
interaction theory.
During static testing, full composite action is evident since no slippage occurred
at the interface between the concrete panels and the steel girders at the haunches.
Full composite action is also evident in the strain across the depth of the beam (Fig.
15). Strain gages across the depth of the beam indicate that slippage does not occur
until a significant amount of fatigue is introduced, but after fatigue testing, a noticeable amount of slippage occurs
As a result of the experiment on the bridge model, the empirical equations obtained

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Fig. 15.

Strain distribution at mid-section.

from the push tests can be used in designing a bridge with full-depth precast decks.
In addition, redistribution of the shear loads on the stud shear connectors, which is
observed from the measured stresses of the stud connectors along the shear span, is
satisfactory. Therefore, it is possible to distribute the shear connectors uniformly,
and this is favorable for a precast deck system. Of course, the behavior of the shear
connection at the ultimate state should be verified through additional experiments.
Judging from the experiment, the bonding and friction prolong the fatigue life of
the shear connector [11].

6. Summary and conclusion


For the design of the shear connection in a precast deck system, analytical and
experimental studies are performed. Characteristics of the shear connection are to
fill the shear pockets with a non-shrink mortar and incorporate a bedding layer.
In this paper, non-shrink mortar should have the same elastic modulus as precast
concrete to insure equal stiffness between the two materials. In the range of these
tests, the failure mode of the shear connection is shear failure of the stud connector,
and the ultimate strength of the shear connection can be expressed as the function
of the area of the stud shank. Therefore, the ultimate strength decreases as the thickness of the bedding layer increases. In designing the actual bridge, it is recommended
that the ultimate strength should be evaluated using the highest bedding layer for
conservative design.
Fatigue endurance is also investigated through push tests and further experiments
are necessary to investigate the effect of bedding thickness on the fatigue endurance
of the shear connection in a precast deck. The secant stiffness of the shear connection
increases during fatigue tests due to residual slip. However, the tangential stiffness
of the shear connection is nearly constant during fatigue tests.
Judging from the experiments on the bridge model, stud shear connectors in a
precast deck system can be distributed uniformly because of the deformation capacity

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219

of the shear connection and the shear load redistribution. However, the effect of
shrinkage and temperature should be considered in the design of an actual bridge.
After bonding and frictional resistance are overcome, the flexural stiffness of the
bridge is reduced, and the behavior of the bridge can be estimated by finite element
analysis using the shear stiffness of the shear connection obtained from push tests.

Acknowledgements
This research was conducted as a cooperative project of the Seoul National University, the DAEWOO Institute of Construction Technology, and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation of Korea, and was partially supported by the POSCO
research foundation.

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