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Problems with unknown bridge foundations in Iowa are often associated with timber substructures. Timber piles are subject to biological and physical deterioration, which makes quantifying in-service pile capacity difficult. Currently there are no reliable means to estimate the residual carrying capacity of an in-service deteriorated pile; and thus, the overall safety of the bridge cannot be determined. The lack of reliable evaluation methods can lead to conservative and costly maintenance practices. This research study was undertaken to investigate procedures for assessing bridge substructures, and evaluating procedures for rehabilitating/strengthening/replacing inadequate substructure components. The report includes an extensive literature review, a field reconnaissance study of 49 bridges, a survey of substructure problems from the perspective of County Engineers, a laboratory study aiming to correlate nondestructive tests to residual pile strength and stiffness values, nondestructive and destructive load tests for 6 bridges with poor substructures, and finally a laboratory study evaluating selected repair methods.


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Report Number

CTRE Project 04-184; IHRB Project TR-522

Granting Agencies

Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation



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12.8 mb