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In conventional reinforced concrete bridge construction, cap beams and their

connection to columns are designed to be capacity protected under strong earthquakes.
This is because cap beams and connections are difficult to repair. The same design
philosophy is mandatory for precast cap beams that are used in accelerated bridge
construction (ABC), particularly in moderate and high seismic zones. ABC relies heavily
on prefabricated reinforced concrete members. The NCHRP report 698 provided a
synthesis of different promising ABC connections. Pocket connections were identified
as practical means of joining prefabricated columns and pier caps. The AASHTO Scan
11-02 revealed more recent studies about seismic performance of pocket connections.

The main objective of this study is to compile and interpret data on seismic performance
of cap beams with pocket connections and identify behavior, design, detailing, and
construction considerations for successful implementation of this category of
connections. The results of the study will be transformed into design guidelines for
possible adoption by AASHTO.

Six tasks will be completed:

1. conducting literature review,

2. determining seismic performance and behavior of pocket connections and cap beams,
3. evaluating constructability of pocket connections,
4. evaluating different cap beam and pocket detailing methods to ensure capacity
protected behavior,
5. developing design and detailing guidelines for cap beams with pocket, and
6. summarizing the investigation and the results in a draft final report.

The pocket is formed in the precast cap beam normally using corrugated steel pipes
(Fig. 1a). The cap beam is placed on top of precast columns subsequently and the joint
is completed. There are two types of pocket connections: cast-in-place (Fig. 1b) and
precast (Fig. 1c). In the former type, the column is prefabricated only up to bottom of the
cap beam with dowels extending into the pocket. The connection is then filled with
concrete placed from a hole at the top of the cap beam. In the second connection type,
the column is fully precast and is inserted into the cap beam pocket. Subsequently, the
gap between the column and pocket is filled with grout.

Regardless of the construction method, there is discontinuity between the cap beam
and column reinforcement, thus there is a concern about the effectiveness of the
connection and design of the cap beam particularly adjacent to the joint. Design
methods will be presented to ensure linear-elastic behavior of precast cap beams in
high seismic regions.
Principal Investigators: M. Saiid Saiidi, PhD, PE. and Ahmad Itani, PhD, PE.
Research Associate: Mostafa Tazarv, PhD; Research Assistant: Mehrdad Mehraein,
PhD Candidate.