Date of Award


Degree Type



Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Delatte, Norbert

Subject Headings

Bridge railings, Concrete bridges -- Cracking, Concrete bridges -- Ohio, concrete, bridge parapet, cracking, structures, construction


The Ohio Transportation has recently identified the problem of wide-spread premature cracking of concrete bridge parapets throughout its District 12 region (Northeast Ohio). Many of the bridge decks that contain these prematurely cracked parapets are of relatively recent construction. In severe cases, replacement of the parapet may be required before replacement of the bridge deck itself. This incurs a sunk cost upon the bridge owner, as the parapets will again be replaced during the regularly scheduled replacement of the bridge deck. In a recent instance, the replacement of a cracked parapet (without replacing the deck) cost District 12 approximately $140,000. In addition, parapet walls are a crucial safety feature of roadway bridge construction, and severe deterioration of these barriers could introduce a significant safety hazard. Premature cracking of concrete bridge parapets is a potentially complex problem, with a number of possible causes. The objective of this study was to determine the reasons for uncontrolled concrete bridge parapet cracking, and to provide recommendations to ODOT to prevent such cracking in the future. Potential factors examined in this study included: properties of the concrete mixtures used, construction methods, joint details, composite structural action, and durability of the concrete and reinforcement. Identifying the cause of, and avoiding this problem in the future, has several benefits, including: a potential cost savings for the district, increasing the safety of these structures in future construction, and increasing the overall understanding of the durability of these structures