Concrete Bridge Approach Pavements: A Survey of State Practices

Many state departments of transportation (DOTs) use concrete slabs to connect the decks of bridges with adjoining roadways. These approaches are meant to provide a smooth transition from roadway to deck. However, the settlement of embankments supporting these slabs can lead to their cracking, as well as the failure of the expansion joints connecting them to roadway pavements. The Rigid Pavements Technical Oversight Committee of the Wisconsin Highway Research Program is interested in other states’ experiences with cracking and expansion joint failure in concrete bridge approach pavements. A brief survey of state DOTs was conducted. It consisted of the following four questions: 1. What problems has your state experienced with cracking of concrete approach slabs adjacent to skewed bridge decks? 2. Have you had instances of expansion joint failure at concrete approach slabs, and if so, to what extent? 3. Could you please attach or provide a link to your agency’s designs or specifications on concrete bridge approach pavements? 4. What is the name, phone number and e-mail address of the appropriate person in your agency to talk to about this topic? Eighteen state DOTs responded to the survey. Key findings of the survey are as follows: (1) Of 18 respondents, 17 use concrete approach slabs and one (Maryland) does not; (2) Of those agencies using approach slabs, 14 (82%) reported problems with cracking, two (12%) had no problems, and one (6%) could not say because of difficulties with inspection; (3) Of 14 agencies reporting cracking, eight (57%) reported problems in the acute corners of skewed approach slabs, and six (43%) said the cracking problem was the same for skewed and nonskewed bridges. Three of 14 agencies (21%) said that cracking was a minor problem, and five (36%) reported settling or erosion of underlying subgrade soils beneath slabs as a possible cause of cracking; and (4) Of 17 agencies using approach slabs, 13 (76%) use expansion joints. For those agencies using expansion joints, 12 (92%) had a problem with joint failure and one (8%) did not. For the 12 agencies with expansion joint problems, three (25%) reported this failure as uncommon and two (17%) as not attributable to approach slabs specifically. State specifications provided by survey respondents are included in Appendices A through K.


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  • Accession Number: 01155050
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Apr 21 2010 9:56AM