A large number of pile-supported bridge approach slabs in southeastern Louisiana were examined to identify the factors that affect their long-term performance. Design drawings and subsoil conditions at these sites as well as their traffic and maintenance records were compiled, and seven representative test sites were selected for thorough field investigation that included inspection of the approach slabs, bridge decks, bridge abutments, and roadway pavement. Field evaluation included walking profiler, falling-weight deflectometer (FWD), laser profiler, geodetic survey, soil borings, cone penetrometer, and nondestructive testing. Measurements made with the walking profiler agreed well with the geodetic survey. The FWD and nondestructive testing were effectively used to detect voids under the approach slab. Results of the study indicated that the current empirical methodology used by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for design of pile-supported approach slabs yields inconsistent field performance. It was concluded that this inconsistent performance is primarily due to the differences in roadway embankment design and construction and in subsoil conditions, which in turn affect the negative skin friction (downdrag) loads imparted on the piles. Impact of other variables such as ramp type, speed limit, traffic volume, and so on was found to be insignificant. Results of the field study were used to develop a new rating system for approach slabs (IRIS) based on International Roughness Index (IRI) measurements obtained with the laser profiler.


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  • Accession Number: 00987507
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 17 2005 12:00AM