Date of this Version
Martindale, G., Watson, D., Kodsy, A.K.M., El-Khier, M.A., Wood, R., and Morcous, G. (2018). "Performance Evaluation of Inverted Tee (IT) Bridge System". NDOT Research Report MO62
The Inverted Tee (IT) girder bridge system was originally developed in 1996 by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) researchers and Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) engineers. This bridge system currently accounts for over 110 bridges in Nebraska used for both state highways and local county roads. Extensive longitudinal and transverse deck cracking have been observed and noted in numerous bridge inspection reports. Since the IT girder bridge system is relatively new, limited data and knowledge exist on its structural performance and behavior. This study evaluates the IT girder bridge system by conducting twenty field observations as well as recording accelerometer, strain gauge, and LVDT time histories and lidar scans for a selected subset of these bridges and then a three-dimensional finite element analysis (FEA) was conducted. The field observations included visual inspection for damage and developing deck crack maps to identify a trend for the damage. System identification of the bridge deck and girders helped investigate the global and local structural responses, respectively. Operational modal analysis quantified the natural frequencies, damping ratios, and operational deflected shapes for the instrumented IT girder bridges. These results helped diagnose the reason for the longitudinal deck cracking. The IT girders respond non- uniformly for the first operational deflected shape and independently for higher modes. Two comparable bridges, namely one slab and one NU girder bridge, were instrumented to verify and demonstrate that the IT girder behavior is unique. An advanced geospatial analysis was conducted for the IT girder bridges to develop lidar depth maps of the deck and girders elevations. These depth maps help identify locations of potential water/chloride penetration and girders set at various elevations and/or where the deck thickness is non-uniform. Live load tests helped quantify the transverse dynamic behavior of the bridge girders. Quantifying the transverse dynamic behavior helped validate the source of longitudinal deck cracking in IT girder bridges, which was determined to be the differential deflection between adjacent IT girders. The FEA analysis was conducted to evaluate the live load moment and shear distribution factors and compare that to the predicted values calculated from the AASHTO Standard and LRFD bridge design specifications. The comparison indicated that the predicted distribution factors were conservative. Also, interviews with IT bridge producers and contractors were conducted to determine production and construction advantages and challenges of this bridge system.