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Connection Details for PBES

Report cover



This document has been developed for the purposes of promoting the use of prefabricated elements and systems in bridges as part of accelerated construction projects. Accelerated construction and long term durability are integral parts of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Bridge Program. Part of this program focuses on a need to create awareness, inform, educate, train, assist and entice State DOT's and their staff in the use of rapid construction techniques.

This document represents the "State of the Practice" at this time with respect to accelerated bridge construction. Most of the details were obtained after an extensive search process that included the following sources:

  • State Departments of Transportation
  • Industry organizations
  • Private consultants
  • International organizations

In several cases, details were developed by the authors where details did not surface during the search process. These details have been labeled as "conceptual". The authors developed these details based on experience with similar details and materials. Owners should evaluate the effectiveness of these details for use in specific bridges.

This information contained herein should be used to develop designs that have the purpose of accelerating the construction of bridge projects. This will assist designers in determining which details would be appropriate for accelerated construction techniques. Some of the considerations for accelerated construction are:

  • Improved work zone safety.
  • Minimizing traffic disruption during bridge construction.
  • Maintaining and/or improving construction quality.
  • Reducing the life cycle costs and environmental impacts.

Prefabricated components produced off-site can be quickly assembled, and can reduce design time and cost, minimize forming, minimize lane closure time and/or possibly eliminate the need for a temporary bridge.

This document is organized so that designers can pick and choose the details that will eventually make up the final bridge. In most cases, several options are presented for a particular connection. The details are presented on concise one page (2 sided) data sheets that can be pulled and copied. This will allow the designer to quickly build a "detail library" that will be specific to the intended project.

This document only focuses on "details" for connections of prefabricated bridge elements and systems. Some guidance is given for general accelerated construction techniques. The Federal Highway Administration will publish a more encompassing accelerated bridge construction manual in the future, that will likely include or reference this work.

Byron Lord
Program Coordinator
Office of Highways for LIFE

Myint Lwin
Office of Bridge Technology


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

The details and information included in this document are examples from previous projects. The agency that developed and used the detail is listed on most of the data sheets. Users of this manual are encouraged to contact the original agencies to ensure that the detail is appropriate for use on the intended project.

Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The Federal Highway Administration and its contracted authors are not responsible for any errors, omissions or damages arising out of this information. The Federal Highway Administration has published this work with the understanding that they are supplying information only. As with any design, sound engineering judgment should always be used.

Quality Assurance Statement
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page
1. Report No.
2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient’s Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Connection Details for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems
5. Report Date
March 30, 2009
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)
Michael P. Culmo, P.E.
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
CME Associates, Inc.
333 East River Drive, Suite 400
East Hartford, CT 06108
10. Work Unit No.
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Office of Bridge Technology, HIBT-10
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
Technical Review done by Vasant Mistry, Raj Ailaney and Gary Jakovich of Federal Highway Administration.

16. Abstract:
Prefabricated components of a bridge produced off-site can be assembled quickly, and can reduce design time and cost, minimizing forming, minimize lane closure time and/or possibly eliminate the need for a temporary bridge. This document has been developed to promote the use of prefabricated elements and systems in bridges and focuses on "Connection Details" as part of accelerated construction projects. Accelerated Bridge Construction is one of the prime focus areas of the Office of Infrastructure of Federal Highway Administration. It focuses on a need to create awareness, inform, educate, train, assist and entice State DOT's and their staff in the use of rapid construction techniques. This document represents the "State of the Practice" at this time with respect to connections between prefabricated elements in accelerated bridge construction projects. Most of the details were obtained from State Departments of Transportation, industry organizations, and private consultants. This information contained herein should be used to develop designs and determine which details would be appropriate for accelerating bridge construction projects.

17. Key Words
Bridges, connections, details, elements, prefabricated, concrete, streel, timber, FRP, precast
18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
21. No. of Pages
22. Price

Symbol When You Know Multiply By To Find Symbol
in inches 25.4 millimeters mm
ft feet 0.305 meters m
yd yards 0.914 meters m
mi miles 1.61 kilometers km
in2 square inches 645.2 square millimeters mm2
ft2 square feet 0.093 square meters m2
yd2 square yard 0.836 square meters m2
ac acres 0.405 hectares ha
mi2 square miles 2.59 square kilometers km2
fl oz fluid ounces 29.57 milliliters mL
gal gallons 3.785 liters L
ft3 cubic feet 0.028 cubic meters m3
yd3 cubic yards 0.765 cubic meters m3
NOTE: volumes greater than 1000 L shall be shown in m3
oz ounces 28.35 grams g
lb pounds 0.454 kilograms kg
T short tons (2000 lb) 0.907 megagrams (or "metric ton") Mg (or "t")
TEMPERATURE (exact degrees)
°F Fahrenheit 5 (F-32)/9 Celsius °C
    or (F-32)/1.8    
fc foot-candles 10.76 lux lx
fl foot-Lamberts 3.426 candela/m2 cd/m2
lbf poundforce  4.45 newtons N
lbf/in2 poundforce per square inch 6.89 kilopascals kPa
Symbol When You Know Multiply By To Find Symbol
mm millimeters 0.039 inches in
m meters 3.28 feet ft
m meters 1.09 yards yd
km kilometers 0.621 miles mi
mm2 square millimeters 0.0016 square inches in2
m2 square meters 10.764 square feet ft2
m2 square meters 1.195 square yards yd2
ha hectares 2.47 acres ac
km2 square kilometers 0.386 square miles mi2
mL milliliters 0.034 fluid ounces fl oz
L liters 0.264 gallons gal
m3 cubic meters 35.314 cubic feet ft3
m3 cubic meters 1.307 cubic yards yd3
g grams 0.035 ounces oz
kg kilograms 2.202 pounds lb
Mg (or "t") megagrams (or "metric ton") 1.103 short tons (2000 lb) T
TEMPERATURE (exact degrees)
°C Celsius 1.8C+32 Fahrenheit °F
lx lux 0.0929 foot-candles fc
cd/m2 candela/m2 0.2919 foot-Lamberts fl
N newtons 0.225 poundforce lbf
kPa kilopascals 0.145 poundforce per square inch lbf/in2

*SI is the symbol for the International System of Units. Appropriate rounding should be made to comply with Section 4 of ASTM E380.
(Revised March 2003)

Listing of Acronyms

The following is a listing of typical acronyms that may be found in this document.

Acronym Definition
ADTAverage daily traffic
AMVAAmerican Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
AASHTOAmerican Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
ACIAmerican Concrete Institute
AISCAmerican Institute of Steel Construction, Inc.
AISIAmerican Iron and Steel Institute
AMTRAKNational Railroad Passenger Corporation
(Amtrak is not a governmental agency; it is a private company called the National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute
ASBIAmerican Segmental Bridge Institute
ASCEAmerican Society of Civil Engineers
ASTMAmerican Society for Testing and Materials
C SHRPCanadian Strategic Highway Research Program
CDCompact Disc
CERFCivil Engineering Research Foundation
CFLHDCentral Federal Lands Highway Division
CFRCode of Federal Regulations
CRPCooperative Research Program (TRB)
CSDContext sensitive design
DOTDepartment of Transportation
ECMTEuropean Conference of Ministers of Transportation
EFLHDEastern Federal Lands Highway Division
EITElectronic information and technology
EUEuropean Union
EUREKAEuropean Research Coordination Agency
F SHRPFuture Strategic Highway Research Program (now known as SHRP 2)
FAAFederal Aviation Administration
FAQsFrequently Asked Questions
FHWAFederal Highway Administration
FRPFiber-reinforced polymer
FYFiscal year
GIFGraphic Interchange Format
GSAU.S. General Services Administration
HBPHighway Bridge Program
HBRRPHighway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program
HITECHighway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center
HRTSOffice of Research and Technology Services
HSIPHighway Safety Improvement Program
HTMLHyperText Markup Language
IBTTAInternational Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association
ISTEAIntermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
ITEInstitute of Transportation Engineers
JPEGJoint Photographic Experts Group
LRFDLoad and resistance factor design
NASNational Academy of Sciences
NBINational Bridge Inventory
NBISNational Bridge Inspection Standards
NCHRPNational Cooperative Highway Research Program
NCSRONational Conference of State Railway Officials
NDENondestructive evaluation
NEXTEANational Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act of 1997
NHINational Highway Institute
NHSNational Highway System
NHTSANational Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NISTNational Institute of Standards and Technology
NRCNational Research Council
NSFNational Science Foundation
NTSBNational Transportation Safety Board
OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration
PCAPortland Cement Association
PCCPortland cement concrete
PCIPrecast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
PDFPortable Document Format
PIPrincipal Investigator
QC/QAQuality control/quality assurance
R&DResearch and development
SAFETEASafe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003
SCOBSSubcommittee on Bridges and Structures (AASHTO)
SCOHStanding Committee on Highways (AASHTO)
SCORStanding Committee on Research (AASHTO)
SFLHDSouthern Federal Lands Highway Division
SHAState highway administration
SHRPStrategic Highway Research Program
TIFFTagged Image File Format
TRBTransportation Research Board
TRISTransportation Research Information Services (TRB)
TRLTransportation Research Laboratory
USACEU.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USDOTU.S. Department of Transportation
WFLHDWestern Federal Lands Highway Division
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Updated: 06/27/2017
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