Stress Monitoring and Sweep Control Studies for Innovative Prestressed Precast Arches

Blok, Joel Phillip


The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has completed the design of a signature bridge in Fort Worth, TX. The proposed structure is comprised of precast, post-tensioned concrete network arches. The arches will be cast on their sides and then rotated into the vertical orientation. Concerns exist about the durability and stability of the arches during stressing, handling, and transportation. The rotation process in particular represents a critical period in the life of the arches. A monitoring system was proposed to track stresses in the arches throughout the construction operations. The primary goals of the project are to install vibrating wire gages (VWGs) in the arches prior to casting to monitor the performance of the arches until the bridge is completed. The instrumentation will be used to provide real-time feedback to TxDOT and the contractor during stressing, handling, and bridge construction. This thesis focuses on the results of a preliminary laboratory study conducted in support of the instrumentation initiative. The purpose of the study was two-fold: to establish the capabilities and limitations of the VWGs and to study the buckling behavior of slender concrete elements with unbonded post-tensioning. More than sixty axial load tests were performed on two slender concrete specimens instrumented with VWGs. Observations are made on the accuracy and reliability of the VWGs. In general, the VWGs were found to be both accurate and reliable in measuring structural parameters and reporting trends in behavior, even at low loads. Some apparent errors were identified, but these were attributed to testing inconsistencies and scale factors rather than to gage error. Observations were also made on the buckling behavior of the elements under a variety of axial loading configurations. The effects of the engagement of the tensioned strand with the duct had a significant impact on the behavior. Strand engagement was shown to increase the buckling capacity of the members through stiffening action, but did not necessarily eliminate the risk of instability. Both the gage resolution study and the stability tests are expected to significantly enhance the ability of the research team to support the arch construction operations.

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