Improved Rotational Limits of Elastomeric Bearings

Bridges experience translational movements and rotations caused by creep and shrinkage, thermal effects, traffic loading, initial construction tolerances, and other sources. Bridge bearings are designed and built to accommodate these movements and rotations while supporting required gravity loads and providing the necessary restraint to the structure. Elastomeric bearings accommodate movement and rotation by deformation of the elastomer, but the bearing must be designed to control the strains and deformations in the elastomer to assure a long service life and good bearing performance. AASHTO's current elastomeric bearing design limits were developed in NCHRP Project 10-20, but rotation of elastomeric bearings was not considered a high-priority issue for that project. As a result, virtually no experimental research on elastomeric bearing rotation was performed, and design provisions were developed based on conservative interpretation of past theoretical results. For example, the experiments used to validate the tension limits were done nearly 60 years ago and used very small laboratory samples, which are not at all similar to bridge bearings. The limits on lift off, uplift, and shear strain in the elastomer are known to be controlling criteria for elastomeric bearing rotation, but the equations used in the current AASHTO provisions have not been verified experimentally, and are believed to be overly conservative. The present conservatism in the rotational design limits results in more expensive bearings and may limit their use. The increased bearing cost is due in part to additional elastomeric material and quality-assurance testing. In some cases, expensive high-load multi-rotational bearings must be used to satisfy the design requirements. For these reasons, it is important to re-evaluate rotational design limits and quality-assurance requirements for elastomeric bearings. The objective of this project is to develop recommended provisions and commentary for rotational design capacity and quality assurance of elastomeric bearings suitable for inclusion in the AASHTO LRFD specifications.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 12-68

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC    20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Beal, David

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Washington, Seattle

    Department of Urban Design and Planning
    Seattle, WA  USA 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Stanton, John

  • Start Date: 20040618
  • Actual Completion Date: 20061231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 8996

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01460825
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 12-68
  • Files: RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:33PM