Strengthening Existing Steel Bridge Girders by the Use of Post-Installed Shear Connectors

Kwon, Gun Up


A number of older bridges built before the 1970’s were constructed with floor systems consisting of a non-composite concrete slab over steel girders. Many of these bridges do not satisfy current load requirements and may require replacement or strengthening. A potentially economical means of strengthening these floor systems is to connect the existing concrete slab and steel girders to permit the development of composite action. This dissertation describes a research program investigating methods to develop composite action in existing non-composite floor systems by the use of post-installed shear connectors.

Three types of post-installed shear connection methods were investigated. These methods are referred to as the double-nut bolt, the high tension friction grip bolt, and the adhesive anchor. These post-installed shear connectors were tested under static and fatigue loading, and design equations for ultimate strength and fatigue strength were developed. These post-installed shear connectors showed significantly higher fatigue strength than conventional welded shear studs widely used for new construction. The superior fatigue strength of these post-installed shear connectors enables strengthening of existing bridge girders using partial composite design, thereby requiring significantly fewer shear connectors than possible with conventional welded shear studs.

Five full-scale non-composite beams were constructed and four of these were retrofitted with post-installed shear connectors and tested under static load. The retrofitted composite beams were designed as partially composite with a 30-percent shear connection ratio. A non-composite beam was also tested as a baseline specimen. Test results of the full-scale composite beams showed that the strength and stiffness of existing non-composite bridge girders can be increased significantly. Further, excellent ductility of the strengthened partially composite girders was achieved by placing the post-installed shear connectors near zero moment regions to reduce slip at the steel-concrete interface.

Parametric studies using the finite element program ABAQUS were also conducted to investigate the effects of beam depth, span length, and shear connection ratio on the system behavior of strengthened partially composite beams. The studies showed that current simplified design approaches commonly used for partially composite beams in buildings provide a good prediction of the strength and stiffness of partially composite bridge girders constructed using post-installed shear connectors.

The free Adobe Acrobat Reader can be used to view PDF files.