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1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 1/6


G. Rombach A. Specker Department of Concrete Structures Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, D 20171 Hamburg, Germany

Keywords: segmental bridges, joints, external prestressing


Segmental box girder bridges externally post-tensioned are one of the major new developments in bridge engineering in the last years. In contrast to classical monolithic constructions a segmental bridge consists of small precast elements stressed together by external tendons (Fig. 1). The many advantages of this type of structure like fast and versatile construction, no disruption at ground level, high controlled quality and cost savings have made them the preferred solution for many long elevated highways, especially in South East Asia (see [1], [2]), and bridges. Although many segmental bridges had been built in the last years the design of the unreinforced joints between the segments, which is of critical importance regarding the safety of the structure, is still under discussion (Fig.9). There is a big discrepancies between the various design models. The known models are either too conservative and thus too uneconomic (German Specification [3]) or not valid for high compressive stresses (AASHTO [4]). Therefore numerical calculations had been conducted and verified by full-scale tests. The results, which will be presented in this paper, lead to a better understanding of the behaviour of segmental constructions and a more realistic design of the joints.


The load deformation characteristic of a segmental construction is different from a monolithic one due to the dry unreinforced joints between the precast elements. Examinations of the behaviour of a segmental bridge and the forces in the joints finite element calculations had been conducted taking into account the non-linear behaviour due to the opening of the dry joints under tension. In contrast to known numerical investigations, the fine indentation of the joints had been modelled which is of great importance regarding torsion effects (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1

Segmental bridge under construction

Fig. 2 Finite element mesh of a segment

1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 2/6 A real existing single span segmental bridge with external posttensioning, a standard span of the elevated highway Second Stage Expressway System in Bangkok [2] been modelled (Fig1, Fig 3). This structure is used as data from a fullscale test [5] is available to verify the results of the complex numerical simulations. The opening of the dry joints is modelled by interface elements.

(12 segments 340 cm + 2 segments 172,5 cm )


10,2 m


2,4 m

Fig. 3 Standard Span of SES, Bangkok Fig. 4 shows the calculated moment-deflection curve which is typical for a single span segmental bridge with dry joints. At the beginning of loading the whole structure is under compression due to the high post-tension normal forces. Thus the structure behave like a monolithic one. The deflection increases linear with the load. At a midspan moment of M 37 MNm due to live load the first joint near midspan starts to open rapidly resulting in a great decrease of stiffness. The lever arm of the inner forces keeps nearly constant. Thus the moment deflection curve is again nearly linear. The structure fails due to crushing of the concrete in the top slab. Nevertheless a ductile behaviour of the segmental bridge can be seen. Only 3 of 13 joints are open under failure load. Thus a great part of the bridge keeps under full compression.
0,40 deflection in midspan due to live loads [m]
q g

0,30 point


Finite Element experiment


opening of the joint up to 1/ 3h

2/3 h

Stresses in mid-span before failure



38 40


bending moment in midspan due to live load [MNm]

Fig. 4 Comparison between full-scale test and numerical results Further shown in Figure 4 are the results from a full-scale test carried out in Bangkok. A good agreement between the numerical results and the test data can be seen. This demonstrates that the finite element model is capable to model the real behaviour of a segmental bridge. Several load combinations corresponding to bending, shear and torsion are examined to determine the stresses resp. the forces in the joint [6]. In a single span bridge the joints near the support are always closed due to the small bending moment. As the behaviour of an open joint is main of interest also a single span bridge restraint on one side with a modified tendon profile has been modelled as insetted in Fig. 5. Figure 5 shows the resulting shear forces in the first joint close to the support in the webs and the slabs due to torsion with increasing load. The results from three different numerical models are presented. The first one is a monolithic girder which behaves always linear. Further the shear forces for a segmental bridge with smooth and keyed joints are shown. There are no differences between the models as long as all joints are closed. When the joint starts to open, the force in the top slab (tensile region) decreases. A great difference in the behaviour of a bridge with plain and keyed joints can be noticed. Smooth joints can only transfer forces when they

1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 3/6

are under compression whereas keyed joints can still transfer forces until a certain gap is reached. Even bigger differences can be seen in the webs. The plain joint reach the limit condition lim Fz = 0,7n just after the joint opens whereas the force in the keyed joint still increases.

Horizontal force Fy [MN]

q DA


top slab
1,0 0 -1,0 -2,0 -3,0 bottom slab

joint no. 1

q g y z

Segmental bridge with shear keys monolithic girder Segmental bridge with plain joint 0 2 5 10 15 20 26 30 35 39

1,0x(dead + live load) loading increased


joint opening up to 1/3 h 15 20 26 30

joint opening up to 2/3 h 35 39

loading increased

1 increment = 0,1xlive load

Horizontal force Fz [MN]

-1,0 -2,0 -3,0 -4,0 -5,0 -6,0 -7,0

0 2


Horizontal force Fz [MN]

-1,0 -2,0 -3,0 -4,0 -5,0

lim F = z 0,7 n

right web

left web
lim F

= 0,7

Segmental bridge with shear keys monolithic girder Segmental bridge with plain joint

0 2








Fig. 5 Forces in the webs and the slabs due to torsion The results emphazise that the shear keys have a significant influence on the behaviour of a segmental bridge under torsion loads. Calculations with plain joints are insufficient when torsion effects become significant.

Fig. 6 Joint opening due to positive resp. negative bending moments


There is a great uncertainty regarding the design of the joints between the segments (see Fig. 9). This is surprising as the behaviour of the joint is of critical importance for the safety of a segmental structure. The shear capacity of a keyed joint is a combination of the friction between the plain surfaces and the shear capacity of the keys. The latter one is neglected in the German regulations.

1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 4/6

3.1 Existing design models

The joints of many segmental bridges had been designed according to the AASHTO Recommendations [4]. Equation 1 mainly is based on tests with small specimens having usually one shear key only [7] similar to that shown in Figure 7 [8].
V j = Akey 6, 792 103 f ck (12 + 2, 466 n ) + 0, 6 Asm n

A sm A k A sm Ak

[m, MN, MPa ] where: Asm fck Akey

average compressive stress across the joint area of contact between smooth surfaces in the failure plane characteristic concrete compressive strength min. area of the base of all keys in the failure plane

According to the German recommendations for design of segmental bridges [3] only the frictional forces should be considered in the design. The load bearing of the shear keys is neglected as only epoxy joints can be used. Please note the difference between eq. (1) and (2) regarding the frictional area Asm resp. AT. L L
3 L+H b(z) AT L/2

V j = n AT
where: AT effective shear area



The results of both models will be discussed together with the proposed design concept in section 3.3.

3.2 Tests and numerical verification

To develop a design concept for the joints tests with specimens, similar to that described in [7] having one or multiple shear keys (Fig. 7) were conducted to calibrate the finite element model. The study includes dry and glued joints. The dimensions of the shear keys are representative for segmental bridges. The non-linear material behaviour of the concrete like e.g. crushing and cracking and the interaction between the indented surfaces (bond, slippage, friction) has been considered in the numerical model.





Fig. 7 Test specimen The test specimens are first stressed normal to the joint and than loaded with a vertical force up to failure. Fig. 8 shows the experimental and calculated load-deformation curve. The behaviour of the joint and the ultimate load are well predicted. The highly complex concrete behaviour near the failure load has not been modelled as this region is not relevant for the load bearing capacity of a joint.

80 20 50



1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 5/6

dry joint

198,5 kN 205,5 kN
glued joint

200 shear force in kN

200 shear force in kN





50 experiment Finite Element calc. 0,0 0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 0,5 0,6 0,7 0,8

50 experiment Finite Element calc. 0,0 0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 0,5 0,6 0,7 0,8

vertical deflections at top of the specimen in mm

vertical deflections at top of the specimen in mm

Fig. 8 Test results versus numerical results for a dry and epoxy joint 3.3 New design model After the verification of the finite element model, a numerical parametric study had been conducted with various number and shapes of shear keys, concrete qualities etc. [6]. The results lead to a design model that differs from the existing concepts. The shear capacity of a keyed dry joint Vd,j is a combination of a frictional and a shear part. For the first one the total area of the joint Ajoint is used and not only the smooth parts (ASm) like in AASHTO recommendations. The load bearing capacity of the keys depends on the concrete tensile resp. compressive strength and the area of the failure plane Akey. for dry joints: V = 1 ( A + f f A ) d, j n jo int ck key F where:


Akey = min left right min hne = h ne,1-3 < h ne,1-4 minimal failure surface bn A joint = h.b hne,2 h ne,1


b bn

Ajoint fck b f = 0,14 Akey hne bn

= 0,65 F = 2,0 n

For glued joints only the frictional part can be used (eq. 4). Experiments showed a relatively small increase in strength of appr. 20% between a glued and a dry joint. Furthermore a sufficient quality of the glue can not be guaranteed on site. for glued joints:
Vd , j = 1

F = 2,0 should be used as the failure of the joint is brittle.

The failure plane Akey will have the least area of key breakage. A relatively high safety coefficient of


coefficient of friction safety coefficient average compressive stress across the joint area of the compression zone characteristic concrete compressive strength width of the web factor for the indentation of the joint min. area of the base of all keys in the failure plane height of keys, with hne 6bn width of the keys


h ne,3

h ne,2

n Ajo int


To compare the results of both models, the shear stress = Vd,j / Ajoint is calculated for a standard segment of the segmental bridge in Bangkok [2]. The relevant joints are fully closed. The concrete compressive strength is fck = 40 MPa. Fig. 9 shows the load bearing capacity of a keyed joint according to various design models. The great differences between AASHTO and the German regulations can be seen. The first model can not be used for high compressive stresses, which may occur near the ultimate design load of a multispan segmental bridge. Furthermore it seems to overestimate the load bearing capacity of a joint.

1st FIB Kongress, Osaka, Japan,2002

Session 2 Paper E-73 6/6


20 Shear Stress [MPa] 15 10 5

an erm G




on nc sig de w Ne on ati fic ci sp e

t cep
50 200




Shear Keys
fck = 40 MPa







Compressive Stress [MPa]

AASHTO [4]: DBV [3]:

= 4,17 + 1, 06 n = 0, 7 n


Fig. 9 Comparison between different design models (standard segment [2])


A non-linear finite element model of a single span segmental bridge is presented. The results show that the behaviour is dominated by the dry joints. The indentation of the joint is of great significance when torsion effects have to be considered. Based on experimental and numerical studies a new concept for the design of dry and glued joints is proposed. REFERENCES [1] Brockmann, Ch., Shafer, G.: Design and Construction of the Bang Na-Bang Pli-Bang Pakong Expressway. in: Stoelhorst, D. et al: Challenges for Concrete in the Next Millenium, Vol. 1, pp. 275-280, Rotterdam 1998 Rombach, G.: Bangkok Expressway - Segmentbrckenbau contra Verkehrschaos, aus: Aus dem Massivbau und seinem Umfeld (Hilsdorf, Kobler ed.), Schriftenreihe des Institutes fr Massivbau und Baustofftechnologie, University of Karlsruhe 1995, pp. 645-656 Deutscher Beton-Verein: Empfehlungen fr Segmentfertigteilbrcken mit externen Spanngliedern, 1999 AASHTO 89 (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials): Guide Specifications for Design and Construction of Segmental Concrete Bridges, 1989, Interim Specifications 1990 1999 Takebayashi, T., Deeprasertwong, K., Leung, Y.: A Full-Scale Destructive Test of a Precast Segmental Box Girder Bridge with Dry Joints and External Tendons, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, August 1994, pp. 297-315 Specker, A.: Der Einfluss der Fugen auf die Querkraft- und Torsionstragfhigkeit extern vorgespannter Segmentbrcken. Thesis, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, 2001 Buyukozturk, O., Bakhoum, M., Beattie, S.: Shear Behaviour of Joints in Precast Concrete Segmental Bridges, Journal of Structural Engineering, No. 12, December 1990, pp. 33803401 Roberts, C.L., Breen, J.E., Kreger, M.E.: Measurements Based Revisions for Segmental Bridge Design and Construction Criteria. Research Report 1234-3F, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin 1993


[3] [4]


[6] [7]


240 cm

Detail A