Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Wan, Baolin

Second Advisor

Foley, Christopher

Third Advisor

Heinrich, Stephen


The problem of cracking in concrete bridge decks has increased in magnitude since the late 1980s. The annual direct cost of cracking in highway bridges in 2002 was $8.3 billion, and indirect costs to users due to traffic delays and lost productivity could reach up to 10 times that amount (Yunovich et al. 2002). Cracks often form relatively early in the life of the concrete, prior to a bridge opening to traffic, and possibly immediately following construction (Schmitt and Darwin 1995; Saadeghvaziri et al. 2002). DOT surveys report that, on average, 42% of bridge decks that show cracking, crack within the first week (Krauss and RogaJia 1996). The deterioration of the bridge decks due to cracking drastically reduces the service life of the bridge, and as a result, increases maintenance and life-cycle costs associated with the bridge. Although cracking in bridge decks has been a problem for quite some time, the factors related to deck cracking are still not fully understood. While there is no consensus on the main cause of bridge deck cracking it is theorized that material properties play the largest role in concrete cracking. Yet, it is still less understood how specifically, the material properties cause cracking. This thesis will attempt to better understand the causes of bridge deck cracking through the use of finite element analysis (ANSYS). Crack data from the Marquette Interchange will be analyzed to determine if the observed cracking patterns are similar to those seen in previous research. Based on the findings, finite element analysis will be implemented to determine the likelihood of cracking due to the variables shown to have a significant effect on concrete bridge deck cracking (drying shrinkage and traffic loading).



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