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Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

Laboratory Study of Structural Behavior of Alternative Dowel Bars (Proj. 7)


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Project status


Start date: 10/01/03
End date: 04/30/06


Report: Laboratory Study of Structural Behavior of Alternative Dowel Bars (Proj. 7) (2.5 mb pdf) April 2006

Tech transfer summary: Testing Structural Behavior of Alternative Dowel Bars ( pdf) May 2006



About the research

Abstract: Load transfer across transverse joints has always been a factor contributing to the useful life of concrete pavements. For many years, round steel dowels have been the conventional load transfer mechanism. Many problems have been associated with the round steel dowels. The most detrimental effect of the steel dowel is corrosion. Repeated loading over time also damages joints. When a dowel is repeatedly loaded over a long period of time, the high bearing stresses found at the top and bottom edge of a bar erode the surrounding concrete. This oblonging creates multiple problems in the joint.

Over the past decade, Iowa State University has performed extensive research on new dowel shapes and materials to mitigate the effects of oblonging and corrosion. This report evaluates the bearing stress performance of six different dowel bar types subjected to two different shear load laboratory test methods. The first load test is the AASHTO T253 method. The second procedure is an experimental cantilevered dowel test. The major objective was to investigate and improve the current AASHTO T253 test method for determining the modulus of dowel support, k0. The modified AASHTO test procedure was examined alongside an experimental cantilever dowel test. The modified AASHTO specimens were also subjected to a small-scale fatigue test in order to simulate long-term dowel behavior with respect to concrete joint damage. Loss on ignition tests were also performed on the GFRP dowel specimens to determine the resin content percentage.

The study concluded that all of the tested dowel bar shapes and materials were adequate with respect to performance under shear loading. The modified AASHTO method yielded more desirable results than the ones obtained from the cantilever test. The investigators determined that the experimental cantilever test was not a satisfactory test method to replace or verify the AASHTO T253 method.