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​Bridge Link Slabs   

  picutre of actual link slab placed on a briidge in District 1

Bridge deck joint failure is a common maintenance issue in Pennsylvania. Traditional bridge joints often break down and allow water and de-icing materials to leak onto and damage the structural elements below. This damage typically requires extensive and expensive repairs. Bridge Link Slabs eliminate deck joints to reduce that damage and deterioration and the necessary maintenance. 

How Does It Work? 

Bridge Link Slabs connect bridge decks together without using traditional deck joints. The slabs are composed of reinforcing steel and Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) and connect simply-supported deck spans. It is designed to flex with girder deflections and transmit compressive and tensile forces through the deck in conjunction with appropriately designed bearings.  

drawing of a link slab on top of a bridge

Image courtesy of NYDOT.

What Are The Benefits? 

Link slabs will occasionally crack, but water leakage is minimal, and repair and maintenance are much less expensive than traditional deck joints. Link slabs are very versatile and can be implemented as part of bridge rehabilitation or preservation projects or in new construction. Link slabs also provide a smoother ride for drivers. 

Innovation in Motion  

picutre of actual link slab placed on a briidge in District 1

PennDOT District 1 utilized Bridge Link Slabs on State Route 1009 bridge over Lake Wilhelm in Mercer County. This bridge involved three spans, two prestressed spread box beams and one adjacent box beam, connected with UHPC link slabs. Following a 28-day monitoring period to ensure that the slabs were performing well, a bituminous overlay was placed over the entire bridge deck. District 1 plans another link slab bridge on State Route 2102 over Interstate 79; a spring 2021 letting is planned. Since an overlay is not planned on this bridge, it will allow for more time to monitor performance of the link slab. 

More Information 

For more information about this innovation, contact the STIC Management Team.