Adjacent box beam bridges have a history of poor long-term performance including premature deterioration and failures. Leaking joints between box beams allow chloride-laden water to migrate through the superstructure and initiate corrosion. The nature of this deterioration leads to uncertainty of the extent and effect of deterioration on structural behavior. Due to limitations in previous research and understanding of the strength of deteriorated box beam bridges, conservative assumptions are made for the assessment and load rating of these bridges. Furthermore, the design of new box beam bridges, which can offer an efficient and economical solution, is often discouraged due to poor past performance. The objective of this research is to develop recommendations for inspection, load-rating, and design of adjacent box beam bridges. The research is presented in two volumes. Volume 1 focuses on the evolution of box beam design in Indiana to understand the lack of performance and durability. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) standards and bridge design manuals were reviewed to track the historical development of box beam bridges in the State. Two timelines were produced tracking important updates to box beam design. Adjacent box beam bridges within INDOT’s bridge database were also analyzed. Superstructure ratings were compared with bridge age as well as bridge characteristics to highlight possible causes for deterioration. Analyzing the INDOT inventory, data shows that the condition of adjacent box beam bridges may be affected by location, type of wearing surface, and the use of deck membranes. Six bridges were then inspected to identify common deficiencies and specific problems. Exterior beams and beams within the wheel load path tend to have higher levels of deterioration. Furthermore, leaking joints between beams leads to corrosion of reinforcement, ultimately resulting in spalling, fracture of prestressing strands, and loss of structural capacity. Volume 2 focuses on evaluating the capacity of deteriorated adjacent box beams, the development of improved load rating procedures, and new box beam design. Through a series of bridge inspections, deteriorated box beams were identified and acquired for experimental testing. The extent of corrosion was determined through visual inspection, non-destructive evaluation, and destructive evaluation. Non-destructive tests (NDT) included the use of connectionless electrical pulse response analysis (CEPRA), ground penetrating radar (GPR), and half-cell potentials. Deteriorated capacity was determined through structural testing, and an analysis procedure was developed to estimate deteriorated behavior. A rehabilitation procedure was also developed to restore load transfer of adjacent beams in cases where shear key failures are suspected. Based on the understanding of deterioration developed through study of deteriorated adjacent box beam bridges, improved inspection and load rating procedures are provided along with design recommendations for the next generation of box beam bridges.

Report Number



deteriorated prestressed concrete, adjacent concrete box beams, strand corrosion, bridge inspection, longitudinal cracking, non-destructive testing, ground penetrating radar, connectionless electrical pulse response analysis, half-cell potentials, visual inspection, concrete deterioration, destructive evaluation, structural testing, live-load distribution, adjacent box beam bridge rehabilitation, concrete deck, load rating, structural capacity

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, Indiana

Date of this Version