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Iowa State University--Becoming the Best

Rapid Replacement of Bridge Deck Expansion Joints Study - Phase I


Principal investigators:

Co-principal investigators:

Project status


Start date: 01/01/13
End date: 12/31/14


Report: Rapid Replacement of Bridge Deck Expansion Joints Study - Phase I (3.64 mb pdf) March 2015

Tech transfer summary: Rapid Replacement of Bridge Deck Expansion Joints Study - Phase I (130.28 kb pdf) Mar 2015



About the research


Bridge deck expansion joints are used to allow for movement of the bridge deck due to thermal expansion, dynamics loading, and other factors. More recently, expansion joints have also been utilized to prevent the passage of winter de-icing chemicals and other corrosives applied to bridge decks from penetrating and damaging substructure components of the bridge. Expansion joints are often one of the first components of a bridge deck to fail and repairing or replacing expansion joints are essential to extending the life of any bridge.

In the Phase I study, the research team focused on the current means and methods of repairing and replacing bridge deck expansion joints. Research team members visited with Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Bridge Crew Leaders to document methods of maintaining and repairing bridge deck expansion joints. Active joint replacement projects around Iowa were observed to document the means of replacing expansion joints that were beyond repair, as well as, to identify bottlenecks in the construction process that could be modified to decrease the length of expansion joint replacement projects.

After maintenance and replacement strategies had been identified, a workshop was held at the Iowa State Institute for Transportation to develop ideas to better maintain and replace expansion joints. Maintenance strategies were included in the discussion as a way to extend the useful life of a joint, thus decreasing the number of joints replaced in a year and reducing the traffic disruptions.