Discrepancies in Shear Strength of Prestressed Beams with Different Specifications


Ozer Dereli, Carol Shield, Catherine French

January 2010

Report no. Mn/DOT 2010-03

Although Mn/DOT inspection reports indicate that prestressed concrete bridge girders in service do not show signs of shear distress, girders rated with the Virtis-BRASS rating tool and Load Factor Rating (LFR) have indicated that a number of the girders have capacities lower than design level capacities. One of the reasons for the discrepancy was suspected to be conservatism of the rating methods (i.e., LFR). Other suspected reasons included potential flaws in the rating tools used by Mn/DOT (i.e., Virtis-BRASS software) including neglecting possible additional shear capacity parameters (e.g., end blocks). As a consequence, the rating methods have made it difficult to discern the cases for which shear capacity may be a real concern. In order to identify the reasons for the discrepancies and inconsistency in rating results relative to observed performance of the prestressed bridge girders, an analytical research program was conducted. The report provides a brief description of the models that provide the basis for the AASHTO shear design provisions and descriptions of the provisions through the 2002 AASHTO Standard specifications. This is followed by a description of the Virtis-BRASS rating tool, which was verified with example bridges provided by Mn/DOT. To investigate prestressed bridge girders within the inventory that might be most at risk for being undercapacity for shear, 54 girders were selected from the inventory for further evaluation. Some of the 54 girders were found to have larger stirrup spacings than required at the time of design. These girders were subsequently rated and evaluated per the 2002 AASHTO Standard Specifications to determine the adequacy of the designs based on the LFR inventory and operating rating methods. Potential sources for increased shear capacity were identified and reviewed.

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