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Integral Bridges

Sem M.Tech (CADS), U.B.D.T.C.E, Davangere. Page 1

It is probable that primitive humans first discovered bridges by chance. Perhaps rivers,
carving its way through an area formed a natural bridge. Or may be a vine became tangled in two
separate trees fell across a stream. Whatever occurred it was observed and learned from. Thus,
people used wood logs, wooden planks to cross an obstacle such as river, canal, railway etc...
A bridge is a structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river
or canal or railway etc. The function of a bridge is to communicate over some particular space in
order that some load or traffic may be conveyed over a natural obstacle or another manmade
thorough fare pedestrian bridges should be light, of course a bridge structure must be safe should
invite use, be comfortable for the user, and be designed and constructed to human scale
vibrations of the deck under excitation of pedestrians walking on it or from wind must not
produce feeling of discomfort in the users. A bridge should be designed such that it is safe,
aesthetically pleasing, and economical. Prior to the 1960s, almost every bridge in the U.S. was
built with expansion joints. These expansion joints often did not perform as well as intended.
They required considerable maintenance, which undermined the economical operation of the
bridges. Accident and vehicle damage caused by defective expansion joints raised safety
concerns. Starting in the early 1960s, the use of jointless bridges for new bridge construction
attracted widespread interest. In the present days integral bridges are most common, integral
abutment bridges use the monolithic deck and diaphragm at abutments to resist the thermal

Fig 1.1: Rope bridge Fig 1.2: wooden plank bridge
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Fig 1.3: Golden gate bridge, San Francisco.
Bridges can be classified into various types depending upon the following factors:
1. Materials used for construction:
Under this category, bridges may be classified as timber bridges, masonry bridges, steel
bridges, reinforced cement concrete bridges, pre-stressed bridges and composite bridges.
2. Alignment:
Under this bridges can be classified as straight or skew bridges.
3. Location of bridge floor:
Under this category, bridges may be classified as deck, semi-through or through bridges.
4. Purpose:
Under this bridges can be classified as an aqueduct, viaduct, highway bridge, railway
bridge and foot bridge.
5. Nature of superstructure action:
Under this category, bridges may be classified as portal frame bridges, truss bridges,
balanced cantilever bridges, suspension bridges and integral bridges.
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6. Position of high flood level:
Under this bridges may be classified as submersible and non-submersible bridges.
7. Life:
Under this bridges may be classified as permanent and temporary bridges.
8. Span length:
Under this category, bridges can be classified as culverts (span less than 8m), minor
bridges (span between 8 to 30m), major bridges (span above 30m) and long span bridges (span
above 120m).
9. Degree of redundancy:
Under this category, bridges can be classified as determinate bridges and indeterminate
10. Types of connection:
Under this category steel bridges can be classified as pinned connected, riveted or

Fig 1.4 A typical deck type integral abutment bridge

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P.V. Mayur Babu and N.M.Bhandari

have studied the performance of integral bridge
under self-weight, imposed load, moving loads and thermal load and compared with simply
supported bridge. For this purpose, a 3D model of both simply supported and integral
bridge have been analyzed using RM-2004 software. In their work they have taken a three span
box girder bridge as an example having same dimension with both simply supported and integral
bridge type. Superstructure is modeled and analyzed to study the effect of dead load, moving
load and thermal load for BM, SF and deflection variations.
Pradeep Kumar T.V, D. K. Paul and Ram Kumar

have studied the performance of deck
extension integral bridges under thermal variation and seismic excitation. For this purpose, they
analyzed a 2D model of an integral bridge using SAP-2000 by considering both linear and
nonlinear behavior of soil. In their work they took an example of the deck extension integral fly
over model and analyzed the study effect of temperature and seismic loading. They conducted
linear static and time history analysis to estimate the displacement and moment capacity of the
structure under linear soil conditions.
The National Bridge Inventory database notes that eighty percent of the bridges in the
United States have a total length of 180-ft. or less. These bridges are well within the limit of total
length for integral abutment and joint less bridge. Where joint less bridge are not feasible,
installation of bridge deck joints should be done with greater care and closer tolerances than
normal bridge construction to achieve good performance.
Since 1987, numerous States have adopted integral abutment bridges as structures of
choice when conditions allow. At least 40 States are now building integral and/or semi-integral
abutment type of bridges. Preference range from Washington State and Nebraska, where 80-90
percent of structures are semi-integral; to California and Ohio, which prefer integral, but use
mix, depending upon the application; to Tennessee, which builds a mix of both integral and
semi- integral, but builds integral wherever possible.

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Bridges constructed without any expansion joint (between spans or between spans and
abutments) and without any bearings are called integral bridges OR Integral bridges in simple
words can be defined as bridges without joints. Integral bridges are characterized by monolithic
connection between the deck and the substructure (piers and abutments). They span from
one abutment, over intermediate support to the other abutment, without any joint in the deck.
Integral bridges have been constructed all over the world including India. . Integral bridges (IB)
are designed to provide resistance to thermal movements, breaking forces, seismic forces and
winds by the stiffness of the soil abutting the end supports and the intermediate support.
In the U.S., the term integral bridge usually refers to bridges with short stub-type
abutments connected rigidly to the bridge deck without joints. This rigid connection allows the
abutment and the superstructure to act as a single structural unit. Typically, single rows of piles
provide foundation support for the abutments.
The advantages of integral construction are greater durability and lower maintenance
costs when compared with jointed bridges.

The integral abutment bridge concept is based on the theory that due to the flexibility of
the piling, thermal stresses are transferred to the substructure by way of a rigid connection
between the superstructure and substructure.

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To eliminate expansion joints in the deck when earthquake forces are predominant or
when consideration like increased resistance to blasts the integral bridge concept is an
excellent option.
Less expensive.
Improved durability.
Easy to design.

The expansion joints and bearings, by virtue of their functions are sources of weakness in
the bridge and there are many examples of distress in bridges, primarily due to
poor performance of these two elements.

Fig 3.1

Metallic bearings destroyed during earthquake

Girder shifted in the longitudinal direction with loss of seating during shaking
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Fig 3.2Surajbari new bridge super structure shifted in the
transverse direction

Fig 3.3 Suraj Bari new bridge expansion joint damaged due to excessive movement

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4.1.1 Full integral bridge:
In full integral bridge/ integral abutment bridge the superstructure and abutments are cast
monolithically by concrete or steel. This is the most efficient design in most situations and every
effort should be made to achieve full integral construction as shown in figure.

Fig 4.1Single span Integral Abutment Bridge or Full Integral Bridge

4.1.2. Semi integral bridge:
Semi-integral bridges are having continuous superstructure supported by abutments,
which are structurally separated as shown in figure, the key advantage of these bridges is
superstructure behavior is independent of the foundation type. A small gap is provided between
the integral back wall and the substructure to allow it to move freely in the longitudinal direction.
The concept of semi-integral bridges is being adapted at places where rigid abutments are
necessary. The role of semi-integral bridges becomes important when there is a need of long
span integral bridges.
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Fig 4.2 Semi Integral - Abutment Bridge.
4.1.3. Deck extension integral bridge:
In deck extension integral bridges, the deck slab is extended from the end piers and taken
over the traditional back wall and into adjoining approach pavement. In India, the integral
bridges are built with the expansion joints near abutment face.
These bridges can also be classified into deck extension integral bridges. In this the main
beams or slab is not cast into a concrete end diaphragm. India has also adopted this type of
design for flyovers.

Fig 4.3 Deck Extension Integral Bridge.
The use of an integral abutment eliminates the need for deck joints and expansion
bearings. The absence of joints and bearings significantly reduces costs during construction.
More significantly, maintenance costs are also reduced since deck joints, which allow water to
leak onto substructure elements and accelerate deterioration, are not needed. In addition, future
widening or bridge replacement becomes easier, since the simple design of the integral abutment
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Sem M.Tech (CADS), U.B.D.T.C.E, Davangere. Page 10

leads itself to simple structural modification. Integral bridges are alternatively referred to as
integral abutment bridges, joint less bridges, integral bent bridges and rigid-frame bridges.

Semi-integral or integral back wall bridges typically have sliding bearings, but no
expansion joints. Expansion joints and bearings have traditionally been used to accommodate the
seasonal thermal expansion and contraction of bridge decks, typically in the order of tens of
millimeters. A survey of approximately 200 concrete highway bridges in the U K, carried out for
the Department of Transport, however, revealed that expansion joints are a serious source of
costly and disruptive maintenance work.
Although the integral bridge concept has proven to be economical in initial construction
for a wide range of span lengths, as well as technically successful in eliminating expansion
joint/bearing problems, it is susceptible to different problems that turn out to be geotechnical in
nature. These are potentially due to a complex soil structure interaction mechanism involving
relative movement between the bridge abutments and adjacent retained soil. Because this
movement is the result of natural, seasonal thermal variations, it is inherent in all integral
The effective temperature is the temperature that governs the overall longitudinal movement of
the bridge superstructure. Change in effective bridge temperature causes the deck to expand and
contract. This is the most important effect governing the design of integral bridges.

Fig 4.4
Integral Bridges

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The integral abutment is defined as abutment, which is connected to the bridge
deck without any movement joint for expansion or contraction of the deck.
1. Simple Design
2.Joint less construction
3.Resistance to pressure
4.Rapid construction
5.Ease in constructing embankments
6.Vertical piles (no battered piles)
7.Simple forms
8.Few construction joints
9.Reduced removal of existing elements
10.Simple beam seats
11.Simplified widening and replacement
12.Lower construction costs and future maintenance costs
13.Improved ride quality
14. It Design efficiency.

Fig 4.5 K L international Airport Curved Bridge
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As temperature changes daily and seasonally, the lengths of integral bridges increase and
decrease, pushing the abutment against the approach fill and pulling it away. As a result the
bridge superstructure, the abutment, the approach fill, the foundation piles and the foundation
soil are all subjected to cyclic loading, and understanding their interactions is important for
effective design and satisfactory performance of integral bridges. The main concept of these
integral bridges is to shift the location of the thermal expansion joints from within the bridge to
the end of approach slab. This shift of location of the joint results in shifting the associated
problems dealing with expansion joints from a structural engineer to the geotechnical engineer.
Fundamentally these problems are due to complex soil-structure interaction mechanism
involving relative movement between the bridge and its adjacent retained soil.
The widespread interest in the integral bridge concept is however dampened to a a certain
extent due to the absence of any specific IRC code / guidelines on the design and detailing
It is important to ensure that the feasibility of IB concept for any project is established in the
early planning stage. Every site is not necessarily suitable for this type of structure and hence use
of this concept in situations where it is not suitable, should be avoided. The following factors
would influence the feasibility of adopting integral type of structure.
Length of the Structure: The longest bridge built in one continuous deck without
joints, except at the abutments, is the Kingsport Bridge in Tennessee (USA), which is 850
m long. In India, the maximum length of IB built so far is 150 m long. In India, the length
of the structure is limited to 150 m, until further studies and research is conducted on the
subject due to the absence of specific guidelines and codes.

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Climatic Condition: The IBs are sensitive to daily and seasonal changes in
temperature and moisture. Lesser the variation in temperature, lesser will be the force
induced on the structure. It may be hence noted that southern and eastern regions of our
country are more suitable for adoption this concept than the northern region.

Seismic Zone: In high seismic zone (i.e. zone IV and V), IBs should not be preferred
as they perform better under earthquake loads. The multiple degree of redundancy in the
structure helps to minimize the risk of failure.

Geometry of the Structure: A complex geometry creates problems in the design of
IBs. Irregular structures i.e. where there are abrupt or unusual changes in the mass,
stiffness or geometry along the span should therefore be avoided. Preferably abutment
heights on either side shall be the same. A difference in abutment height will cause
unbalanced lateral loads resulting in sideway, which should be considered while
designing. This procedure is quite complex process which should be avoided.

Along with the above mentioned considerations, the following some of the planning
characteristics are also considered:
Complexity in Analysis and Design
Type of Superstructure
Type of Abutments
Type of Foundations and Sub-Soil Conditions.

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Fig 5.1 K L international Airport Curved Bridge

5.2 Fly over using integral bridge concept for Delhi metro length 115m

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Fig 5.3 Delhi Metro

1. Simplified details for construction.
2. Reduced life cycle cost and long term maintenance.
3. Improved design efficiency Improved riding quality.
4. Added redundancy with improved seismic performance Ease in constructing
5. Elimination of water leakage on critical structural elements.
6. Lesser tolerance restriction due to elimination of bearings and expansion joints.
7. Faster construction.
8. Simplified widening and replacement detail Useful for strengthening of existing bridges.

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1. Design of Continuous Spans: The design and detail are much simplified with the
help of computer programs and design aids, the extra effort of designing continuous
spans can be minimized.

2. Joints off the Bridge: Cycle control joints, joints which facilitate longitudinal
cycling of bridges and approach slabs are provided between approach slabs and approach
pavement. For the shortest bridges, the usual pavement expansion joint is sufficient. For
longer bridges, however, specially designed cycle control joints are devised and

3. Pile Loading: One primary concern expressed about the construction of integral
bridges with pile supported flexible abutments is the uncertainty about abutment pile
flexural stresses. However, for typical two and three span bridges, the amount of thermal
movement is less than an inch. Consequently, these stresses are generally ignored. For
longer bridges, actual bridge performance has shown that high pile flexural stresses do
not adversely affect bridge performance.

4. Buoyancy and Uplift: Care must be exercised when using integral bridges for
stream crossings because most deck type integral bridges are buoyant. Consequently, for
those bridges with superstructures which become submerged, air vents are provided
through the top of beam webs, and anchorage to piers are considered. For multiple span
bridges with short end spans, deck slab concrete for the end-spans are placed first to
prevent end-span uplift during deck slab placement.

5. Embankments: Since integral bridges receive significant support from embankments,
such bridges are built only in conjunction with stable, well consolidated embankments.
Consequently, integral bridge embankments are constructed first to ensure that
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embankments and sub foundation soils are consolidated and stabilized before the flexible
pier and abutment piles are driven.

6. Other Considerations: Integral bridges should be restricted to sites where not less
than 10 or preferably more than 15 feet of overburden is present (to ensure pile
flexibility and effective pile end-bearing), to sites where appreciable settlement is remote
(these bridges cannot easily be adjusted to compensate for large settlements), to sites
where skews of 30 degrees or less are appropriate, and to uncrowned sites where
embankments and extra spans can be added to avoid the use of wall-type abutments.

Fig 5.4 Dankuni-Palsit Flyover:
It is situated at the Durgapur Expressway. The deck is RC solid slab type integral with the twin piers. The bridge is a
joint less bridge without any expansion joint over intermediate piers without any bearings

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1. Reduced Substructure Costs:
Abutments are composite structures. Whereas single Span jointed bridges with wall-type
abutments are designed to support embankments (Fig.6a), continuous multiple span integral
bridges on the other hand are built compositely with embankments and are supported by them
(Fig. 6b). In the first case, expensive wall-type abutments and abutment foundations are needed
to support embankments. In the second, cost savings are realized because integral bridges receive
much of their longitudinal and lateral support from embankments.

Fig 6: Different bridge types: a) single span with wall type abutments.
b) Multiple spans with stub-type abutments.

2. No Bearings and Joints:
Integral bridges can be built without bearings and deck joints. This will not only save
initial costs but also reduce maintenance efforts. This is an important benefit because presently
available deck joint sealing devices have such short effective service lives.

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3. Simplified Construction:
The simple characteristics of integral bridges make for rapid and economical
construction. For example, there is no need to construct cofferdams, excavation of footings is
made, backfill is placed, cofferdams is removed, bridge seats are prepared, bearings are placed,
back walls, and deck joints. Instead, integral construction generally results in just four concrete
placement days. After the embankments, piles, and pile caps have been placed and deck stringers
are erected, deck slabs, continuity connections, and approach slabs are followed in rapid
4. Minimized Deterioration:
The most obvious reason why integral bridges have become so popular, especially with
transportation departments located in and above the Snow Belt, is their outstanding resistance to
deicing chemical corrosion and deterioration. Since these bridges do not have movable deck
joints at abutments, deck drainage contaminated by deicing chemicals cannot penetrate bridge
deck slabs and adversely affect the primary bridge members.
5. Simplified Bridge Replacement:
While using multiple span integral bridges to replace single span structures with wall-
type abutments, the great adaptability of integral bridges allows them to span across existing
foundations, thus avoiding the need to remove them. Since small bridges are usually replaced in
50-year cycles, use of integral bridges with their simple pile foundations will considerably
simplify future bridge replacements.

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Integral bridges have become increasingly popular over recent years. Problems and costs
associated with failed expansion joints in conventional bridges not only make integral bridges a
cost-effective option but also means they have longer life spans than their counterparts.
The growing importance of integral bridges has highlighted the need for more
information and guidance to assist in improving bridge design.
The smooth, uninterrupted deck of the integral bridge is aesthetically pleasing, and it
improves vehicular riding quality. As temperature changes daily and seasonally, the lengths of
integral bridges increase and decrease, pushing the abutment against the approach fill and pulling
it away. As a result the bridge superstructure, the abutment, the approach fill, the foundation
piles and the foundation soil are all subjected to cyclic loading, and understanding their
interactions is important for effective design and satisfactory performance of integral bridges.

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Sem M.Tech (CADS), U.B.D.T.C.E, Davangere. Page 21

Alok Bhowmick, Design and construction of integral bridges - An innovative concept,
The Indian Concrete Journal, July 2003, Vol. 77, No 7, pp 1163-1174.
Alok Bhowmick, 2003, Design and construction of integral bridges- An innovative
concept, The Indian Concrete Journal, 77(7), pp 22 35.
S.Ponnuswamy Bridge Engineering, Second edition, published by Tata Mc Graw Hill
publishing, 1986
The department for regional development Northern Ireland The Design of Integral
Vasant C. Mistry1 Integral abutment and jointless bridges Structural Engineer, Federal
Highway Administration, Washington, DC