George Washington Bridge,
Suspended Span Concrete Barrier Crack Investigation
Cracks have been observed in the precast concrete barriers adjacent to the orthotropic decks in the upper roadway of the George Washington Bridge (GWB), among which were some diagonal cracks near the steel pockets which were part of the connections between the concrete barriers and the steel diaphragms, supporting the steel orthotropic decks. CHI was retained by Skanska to perform an investigation of the cause(s) of the cracking.
A detailed finite element model was created, which included the steel deck and diaphragms and the concrete barriers. Shell elements were used for the deck and diaphragm, and solid elements were used for the concrete barrier. The analysis results reviewed high tensile stresses around the steel pockets under truck loads, which matched very well with the crack patterns.