Secret ingredient for high-strength bridges

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On April 1, 2014

Felt bearing pads like the one pictured above are placed between concrete girders and deck panels to prevent cracking as the bridge moves during temperature changes. (Photos by Terry Barner)

Last fall, a new bridge was built east of Jefferson City, Mo., that incorporates an unusual, high-strength concrete mix in its girders and support structure. The three-span bridge is outfitted with sensors and other instrumentation to collect data on how well the bridge performs over time.

It’s another milestone for John J. Myers, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, who worked on the project with the Missouri Department of Transportation and Missouri S&T’s National University Transportation Center. Myers has spent the past decade studying and testing high-strength concrete and other innovative concrete systems for implementation.

Myers and his team found that using high-strength, self-consolidating concrete can either extend the span length of the girders — a structure’s main support member — or reduce the number of girder lines needed in a given span. Self-consolidating concrete is a high- performance concrete that can flow easily into tight and constricted spaces without separation or the need of vibration to remove trapped air. Myers believes the material will also cost less to maintain and last longer than conventional concrete.

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On April 1, 2014. Posted in 2014, Around the Puck, Research, Spring 2014, Video