Initial Investigation of Reinforced Concrete Filled Tubes for Use in Bridge Foundations

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) frequently employs deep pile or caisson bridge foundations for its bridge structures. Deep pile and drilled shaft foundations are increasingly important for seismic design in Washington state, because of increased seismic design load demands in bridge design specifications. A common caisson is a reinforced concrete filled tube caisson. Although these types of foundation elements are common, there are few guidelines on their design. As a result, current WSDOT design methods are conservative and neglect the many benefits provided by composite action of the concrete and the steel tube, which may result in increased cost and size of the foundation. Recent research on composite concrete filled steel tubes (CFT) shows significant benefit for applications using CFT elements, in particular that CFT elements can develop more lateral resistance and greater inelastic deformation capacity with less deterioration of resistance than reinforced concrete elements of the same weight and diameter. Hence the use of this composite action permits smaller diameter and shorter caisson foundations resulting in cost savings associated with smaller piles and drilled shafts, less material and reduced construction time and cost. This research involves consideration of the composite properties of CFT members with internal reinforcement, and this special case of internally reinforced CFT is identified as RCFT in this report. 

The research study used analytical tools verified using past experimental and analytical research on CFT members and foundation connections without internal reinforcement. The research included comprehensive review of past research results including experiments and analysis of CFT and RCFT elements and connections. Design models were evaluated and compared to prior test results to determine their accuracy and reliability. A comprehensive analytical study was performed to extend this prior research to current WSDOT RCFT applications. The analytical studies were calibrated to past experimental results to document their accuracy, and the analysis included development of basic design models, fiber or section based analysis, and detailed continuum based models. No experiments were included in this initial study, but observations from prior experimental research were to be used to support the work. The goals of this preliminary study were to develop initial answers to uncertainly in the design process of these components and their connections to permit the WSDOT to begin to employ the benefits of composite action for these sub-structural systems. To that end, specific design recommendations from this preliminary research study are provided. Finally, an overview of the additional research needed to further develop the deep foundation system is provided.

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Publication Number: 
WA-RD 776.1
Last modified: 
12/14/2016 - 11:18
Charles Roeder, Dawn Lehman.
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Number of Pages: 
Bridge foundations, Composite structures, Tubular structures, Reinforcement (Engineering), Bridge substructures, Earthquake resistant structures, Recommendations, Earthquake resistant design, Bridge engineering.