Title page for ETD etd-05252012-135136

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Rivera, Elias Alexander
URN etd-05252012-135136
Title Fatigue Assessment for Failed Bridge Deck Closure Pour
Degree Master of Science
Department Civil Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wright, William J. Committee Chair
Roberts-Wollmann, Carin L. Committee Member
Weyers, Richard E. Committee Member
  • construction joint
  • reinforcing steel
  • closure pour
  • bridge deck
  • fatigue
Date of Defense 2012-05-01
Availability unrestricted
After 17 years in service, a 3 ft by 3 ft closure pour section of an Interstate 81 (I-81)

bridge deck failed by punching through near Marion, Virginia. Visual inspection noted

that there was considerable corrosion on some of the reinforcing bars in the vicinity of

the construction joint, while other failure bars had little or no corrosion. Sections of the

bridge deck were cut and delivered to Virginia Tech for further investigation.

It was clear from an initial investigation that shrinkage of the deck concrete had caused

the construction joints to open and thereby allow water and chlorides to enter the joint. In

addition, it was observed that several bars across the closure pour construction joints had

suffered significant section loss due to corrosion, but it was not clear if fatigue and

strength failure of the reinforcing bars were also contributing factor in the closure pour


To study the problem four fatigue tests and five strength tests performed. The specimens

included six slab strips cut from the I-81 bridge deck, with the 3-ft closure pour included,

and three additional specimens that were cast in the laboratory to represent a base line for

performance. A three-point loading setup was used for both fatigue and strength tests.

However, for the final strength and fatigue tests, a jacking system was designed and

implemented in an effort to open the closure pour construction joints to simulate the open

joints of the I-81 bridge.

The objectives of this research program are to provide a better understanding of the

closure pour failure mechanism, develop inspection procedures for Virginia Department

of Transportation (VDOT) to assess its bridge inventory containing similar construction

joints, and to develop recommendations for future construction of similar construction


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