Guidelines for Maintaining Small Movement Bridge Expansion Joints

Bridge expansion joints are designed to accommodate bridge movement and rotation as well as to protect the bridge superstructure and substructure elements such as beam/girder ends, piers, abutments, pedestals, and bearings from runoff water and deicing chemicals. Proper performance of bridge expansion joints has a significant impact on the service life of multiple bridge elements, and therefore, the long-term serviceability of the bridge. The origins of many extensive bridge rehabilitations and even replacement projects can be traced back to the condition of expansion joints. Therefore, bridge owners invest significant resources toward the design, construction, and maintenance of bridge expansion joints. Nonetheless, the performance of bridge joints has been problematic for bridge owners across the country. Improper sizing of the joint seal, poor substrate preparation, and improper application have been cited as some of the reasons for joint failures. To overcome these failure mechanisms, bridge owners need clear guidelines for evaluating the performance of bridge expansion joints and maintaining them. The objective of this research was to develop proposed guidelines with commentary for evaluating and maintaining small movement bridge joints (i.e., 4 in. or less) to support the decisions of bridge owners. The proposed guidelines with commentary should cover as a minimum: (1) joint failure mechanisms; (2) performance metrics (e.g., service life and life cycle costs (LCC)) to select the best performing joints considering bridge geometry, environmental loading, and other factors; and (3) procedures for maintenance, repair, and replacement of bridge joints. The research agency’s final report that documents the entire research effort is available online at:


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $150000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 12-100

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Dekelbab, Waseem

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Delaware, Newark

    Department of Civil Engineering
    301 DuPont Hall
    Newark, DE  United States  19716
  • Principal Investigators:

    Shenton, Harry

  • Start Date: 20140716
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160900
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37709

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543760
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 12-100
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 21 2014 1:04AM