Validation of Prestressed Concrete I-Beam Deflection and Camber Estimates

Principal Investigator(s):

Cathy French, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

The camber at the time of bridge erection of prestressed concrete bridge girders predicted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was observed to often overestimate the measured cambers of girders erected at bridge sites in Minnesota, which, in some cases, was causing significant problems related to the formation of the bridge deck profile, the composite behavior of the girders and bridge deck, delays in construction, and increased costs. Extensive historical data collected from two precasting plants and Minnesota counties showed that, on average, the measured cambers at release and erection were only 74 percent and 83.5 percent, respectively, of the design values. Through data collection, analysis, and material testing, it was found that the primary causes of the low camber at release were concrete release strengths that exceeded the design values, the use of an equation for concrete elastic modulus that greatly under-predicted the measured values, and thermal prestress losses not accounted for in design. Fourteen girders were instrumented and their camber measured; the program PBEAM was used to evaluate the influence of various time-dependent effects (e.g., solar radiation, relative humidity, concrete creep and shrinkage, length of cure, and bunking/storage conditions) on long-term camber. Once investigated, these effects were included in long-term camber predictions that were used to create sets of both time-dependent and single-value camber multipliers. The use of these multipliers, along with modifications made to the elastic release camber calculations, greatly reduced the observed discrepancy between measured and design release and erection cambers.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2010093
  • Start date: 05/2010
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Infrastructure
  • Topics: Bridge design and sensing