Improving Standard Bridges Through Aesthetic Guidelines and Attractive, Efficient, Concrete Substructures

Billington, Sarah L


Designed for economy and function alone, standard highway bridges of short and moderate spans often detract from rather than enhance the environment in which they are built. Such an unimaginative display of structural engineering does little to express the rapid growth and exciting advancement of this profession.

Aesthetics & Efficiency Guidelines have been developed that are primarily intended for use by bridge and highway engineers designing standard short and moderate span bridges with an emphasis on bridges using precast concrete superstructures. Four example applications of the Guidelines to standard bridge projects in Texas show general approaches and varied economic benefits and/or costs.

Recognizing that the appearance and efficiency of standard short and moderate span bridges can be greatly improved with more thoughtful substructure design, an attractive and efficient substructure system has been developed for use with standard superstructure systems in Texas. The proposed system of match cast precast segmental elements post-tensioned together on site combines high strength prestressing steel with high performance concrete for improved durability and structural efficiency. Attractive cast-in-place substructures as an alternate to the current common Texas substructure practice utilizing circular columns and rectangular bent caps are also presented.

Applications of this research to two existing projects in Texas are summarized and the resulting impact reviewed. Implementation strategies for further application of the research are given.

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