Engineered Fibre-reinforced Concrete Systems for Bridge Deck Link Slab Applications
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Rehabilitation and maintenance of the aging transportation infrastructure are of major concern in the Province of Ontario. A large portion of this work is related to the durability of highway bridges around the province. One of the weakest points in a bridge structure from a durability aspect is the expansion joints that can allow harmful elements, such as road salts and contaminants to leak down from the road surface and attack the supporting structure of the bridge. Although expansion joints can be eliminated in the design of a new bridge, such as in an integral abutment bridge, this requires major changes to the supports and structure of the bridge, making it impractical for retrofitting existing bridges. One effective alternative is the replacement of a traditional expansion joint with a link slab. A link slab is a concrete slab used in place of an expansion joint to make the bridge deck continuous while keeping the supporting girders simply supported . Link slabs must be able to resist large force effects both in bending and direct tension while minimizing cracking , one solution is to use the high tensile and flexural strength properties of an ultra-high performance fibre-reinforced concrete (UHPFRC) . The UHPFRC mixtures are often proprietary and expensive. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the potential of using common fibre types with standard concrete ingredients in a fibre-reinforced concrete (FRC) as an alternative to UHPFRC in a link slab. Using a selection of macro fibres commonly used in slab on grade applications for crack control, an optimized FRC mixture was developed following the principals established by Rossi and Harrouche . This mixture was then used with a variety of fibre types to evaluate the structural and durability properties of the FRC. Testing was conducted for fresh mixture properties, compressive, tensile and flexural strength as well as freezing and thawing resistance, linear shrinkage, environmental and salt exposure along with other durability tests. Results showed that the concrete mixture used for an FRC link slab should consist of; an equal ratio of fine and coarse aggregate by weight and a higher than normal percentage of cement paste, for optimal workability and a dosage of 1.5% by volume of macro steel fibres. Hooked-end steel fibres resulted in the best performance increase to the FRC of the six fibre types tested. Results also showed that reinforcing cage for an FRC link slab should be designed to ensure that fibres can evenly reach all areas of the link slab form to give homogeneous fibre distribution. Although the FRCs created did not perform to the high level of a UHPFRC, these results show a consistent and effective FRC can be created, for use in a link slab with common fibres and standard concrete materials to provide a less expensive and more widely available FRC link slab than UHPFRC.