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1999/002

Bridge Technical Note

DESIGN OF DECK JOINTS FOR ROAD BRIDGES


1. SCOPE
This document gives VicRoads requirements for the design and specification of deck joints for
road bridges in the state of Victoria and should be read in conjunction with AS5100 Bridge design
and Section 660 of VicRoads Standard Specification.
The following technical note contains guidance relevant to this technical note:
2002/001 Reinforcement of deck joints
2. GENERAL
Deck joints must comply with the following requirements:

The design of deck joints must be in accordance with AS5100;

There must be documented evidence of satisfactory performance of the joint system in


service conditions.

The bridge designer may include one or more deck joints that comply with the foregoing
requirements on the drawings from which the Contractor can make a selection. Should the
Contractor wish to use an alternative deck joint, it must submit full design details for the proposed
alternative to the Superintendent together with evidence of satisfactory performance. The
Superintendent will then determine which joint system is to be adopted. Alternative joint systems
must comply with the requirements stated above.
3. DESIGN REQUIREMENTS
Deck joints and their associated anchorages shall be designed in accordance with the
requirements of AS5100 and in particular with reference to AS5100.4 Clause 17.
Repair and replacement of deck joints are among the most common, costly and potentially
dangerous maintenance tasks. It is, therefore, essential to design and install these systems in a
manner that minimises the future requirement for their maintenance.
3.1 General
The requirements for noise, vibration, sealing, covering, corrosion resistance and accessibility
shall be in accordance with AS5100.4 Clause 17.3.1.
3.2 Design Loads
Deck joints and their anchorages shall be designed in accordance with the requirements of
AS5100.4 Clause 17.3.2.
3.3 Fatigue
Deck joints shall be designed for fatigue in accordance with the requirements of AS5100.4
Clause 17.3.3.

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3.4 Movements
Deck joints shall be designed to accommodate Ultimate Limit State movements specified in
AS5100.4 Clause 17.3.4. Components of movement including temperature, creep, shrinkage,
prestress, and any additional construction or settlement movements likely to occur during the
life of the bridge should be considered. Ultimate load factors are given in AS5100.2. In cases
where the bridge joint cannot accommodate the full range of movement due to braking forces,
the designer should ensure that once the available travel of the deck joint has been exhausted,
the additional force due to braking can be resisted by passive earth pressure behind the
abutment in conjunction with the approach slab where this is present.
The ultimate joint movement requirements and installation gap at a temperature of 20C shall
be stated on the drawings.
3.5 Gap Width
Requirements for gap widths and definition of open joints are specified in AS5100.4 Clause
17.3.5.
3.6 Anchorage of Deck Joints
Anchorages for deck joints shall be designed in accordance with AS5100.4. Joints that include
tensioned bolts shall be installed in accordance with Specification Section 660. The use of
retro-fitted bonded or mechanical anchors to hold-down deck joints is not permitted.
3.7 Drainage
Sealing of the deck joint is recommended to prevent the penetration of the joint by water and
debris which may cause staining and deterioration of the bridge superstructure and
substructure. A drainage system should be provided with suitable connections to channel water
away from the substructure. When deck joint drainage is provided, it should be designed to
facilitate inspection and maintenance.
3.8 Installation
Deck joints shall be designed and detailed to follow the bridge deck geometry including the
profile of kerbs and parapets where these are present. Specification Section 660 provides
installation tolerances, and Clause 17.7 of AS5100.4 specifies a method of determining the
bridge temperature at installation.
Anchorage failure is a common defect affecting deck-joints and is often attributed to
inadequacy of the design or incorrect installation of the deck joint. In order to avoid defects
due to incorrect installation, all deck joints shall be installed by the supplier in accordance with
the requirements of VicRoads Standard Specification Section 660.
3.9 Maintenance
The supplier shall guarantee the serviceability of the joint for a minimum period of 10 years
after installation.
3.10 Joint Sealants
Flexible continuous joint sealants and fillers and pourable sealants may be used on short span
bridges which have a range movement of less than 20 mm. The movement range in this case
is limited to + or 25% of the installation width. The advantage of this type of deck joint is the
seal can be repaired without replacement of the full length of seal.
Cellular neoprene compression seals can be used to replace these types of sealant.
Compression seals may be used with a concrete or steel plate nosing refer to 4.1 below.
Where a compression seal is used it should be continuous for the full length of the deck joint

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3.11 Detailing
To simplify detailing and fabrication of deck joints on skew bridges the alignment of the joint
should be made square where the joint crosses kerbs and parapets.
4. JOINT SYSTEMS
4.1 Compression Seal Joints
Compression seal joints consist of a cellular neoprene seal held in position by a combination of
compression and adhesion. The most common cause of failure of compression seals is loss of
adhesion resulting in the seal springing out of the recess. Compression seal joints are not
suitable for skew joints as the cellular insert does not accommodate racking movements
leading to a loss of adhesion.
All compression seals shall be installed in accordance with the suppliers recommendations
using a lubricant/adhesive which is compatible with the seal material.
Where the traffic volume is less than 150 vehicles per day, the vertical faces of the joint may be
formed by casting or saw-cutting the concrete. For heavier traffic volumes, steel plates are to
be used. The seal should be supported so that it is 5mm below the deck level to prevent
damage by traffic.
Cellular compression seals come in a variety of sizes and configurations and each seal is
designed to work within a prescribed movement range. The seal must be sufficiently robust to
resist damage due to impact from stones and road debris. The walls of the seal may also fail as
a result of fatigue caused by thermal movement leading to tearing or splitting. Joint suppliers
shall provide a test certificate showing that the seal is made from an elastomer passing
appropriate material test criteria.
4.2 Strip Seal Joints
Strip seal joints consist of a continuous elastomeric membrane held in place by recesses in
steel or aluminium alloy edge protection strips. The edge protection strips are bolted down
using fully tensioned high tensile bolts. This type of joint is relatively easy to install and
maintain and the edge strips can be raised or replaced if required.
The movement range of this type of joint is limited in accordance with AS5100 by the maximum
allowable open gap width of 85mm. The minimum gap may be 0mm or 15mm depending on
the shape of the membrane. Joint suppliers shall provide a test certificate showing that the
seal is made from elastomer passing appropriate material test criteria.
4.3 Finger Plate Joints
Finger plate joints consist of overlapping steel or aluminium fingers which allow longitudinal
movements of up to 300mm. Water passes freely through the joint and is collected in a trough
or, alternatively, the joint may be fitted with a neoprene seal.
Design of the fingers and anchor bolts should be in accordance with AS5100.4. The gap width
between fingers should be limited to a maximum of 35mm where bicycle access is allowed.
Wide finger plate joints and joints located at turning lanes are not recommended unless a
suitable permanent surface treatment is employed to prevent vehicles skidding on the exposed
steel.
4.4 Asphaltic Plug Joints
These joints may be suitable for replacement of existing deck joints or for short span bridges
having expansion movements of less than 20mm. The joint consists of a mixture of flexible
binders and aggregate constructed in place to form a flexible layer across the expansion gap.
A flashing layer prevents the joint material from entering the gap and the joints is usually cured
using hot air. Serviceability of this type of joint is heavily dependent on quality control of

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materials and workmanship. Asphaltic plug joints are not suitable in locations where vehicles
may perform stopping / turning movements or where there are low or very high / heavy traffic
volumes.
4.5 Modular Joints
Provisions for modular deck joints are specified in AS5100.4 Clauses 17.3.2 and 17.6. Modular
or multi-seal joints are used on bridges having expansion movements in excess of the range of
finger plate joints. These joints have internal bridging members which support the joint
modules that carry the wheel loads. Modular joints contain sliding surfaces which are subject
to wear and can become noisy if not correctly maintained.
In addition to the requirements of Clause 3.8 of this note, maintenance of modular joints shall
be carried out by the supplier in accordance with a service agreement which must be
established as part of the Contract for supply of the joint.
Where it is practicable, access for maintenance of modular joints shall be provided from below
deck level.
4.6 Poured Sealant Joints
The joint shall be a proprietary system and shall comprise a poured sealant together with a
compatible nosing (header) material from the same supplier. Joints of this type shall comply
with the requirements of AS5100.4 Clause 17 and in particular Clause 17.8.
5. CALCULATION OF JOINT MOVEMENT
The following steps are typical of the design process required to determine the movement
requirements of deck joints for a particular bridge.
STEP 1: On the basis of the bridge geometry, support conditions and construction
sequence, calculate the horizontal stiffness of all supports, including substructure and any
stiffness of the deck joints being considered;
STEP 2: Determine the null-point or point of fixity of the bridge;
STEP 3: Determine the average age of the superstructure concrete at the time of
installation of the deck joints;
STEP 4: Calculate longitudinal and lateral movements due to temperature using the
temperature range from 20C and the coefficient of thermal expansion given in AS5100.5
Clause 6.1.6;
STEP 5: Calculate movement due to shrinkage in accordance with AS5100.5 Clause
6.1.7 to determine values of k1 for the appropriate environment and the average age of the
concrete and 30 years. Calculate the movement due to shrinkage using the net value of k1;
STEP 6: Calculate movement due to creep in accordance with AS5100.5 Clause 6.1.8 to
determine values of k2 and k3 for the appropriate environment and the average age of the
concrete and 30 years;
STEP 7: Calculate the movement due to braking forces using the longitudinal force
obtained from AS5100.2 Clause 6.8.2 divided by the stiffness calculated in STEP 1;
STEP 8: Tabulate all joint movement components and ultimate load factors from
AS5100.2, and then calculate the worst combinations of ULS movements. Braking force
movements do not need to be included in the total movement provided that the designer

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ensures that once the available travel of the deck joint has been exhausted, the additional
force due to braking can be resisted by passive earth pressure behind the abutment;
STEP 9: Show the following on the drawings:
Suitable alternative deck joints that have sufficient movement capacity;
Joint gap at 20C;
Maximum joint gap;
Dimensions of deck joint profile including kerbs and parapet (if any).

MARIO FANTIN
PRINCIPAL BRIDGE ENGINEER

For further information please contact:


Principal Bridge Engineer
3 Prospect Hill Road Camberwell Vic 3124
Telephone: (03) 9811 8307
Facsimile: (03) 9811 8329
Email: mario.fantin@roads.vic.gov.au
Bridge Tech Notes are subject to periodic review and may be superseded

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