Modern concretes for precast bridges

State of the art in Germany and internationally

Generally speaking, the use of precast elements in bridge construction is a tried-and-tested method, which, in Germany, is usually restricted to combining structural precast elements with cast-in-situ infill concrete (with only a few exceptions). On an international scale, however, other bridge construction techniques such as the segmental method play a major role. Precast elements are used for simple overpasses as well as large bridges across valleys and long-spanning structures composed of several bridge sections. Precast methods provide a high degree of prefabrication and production under controlled factory conditions, which is why they lead to additional benefits in terms of efficient utilization and shorter construction times, for instance when designing new structures to replace existing bridges. Various options exist for producing innovative types of concrete, which can be self-compacting and/or textile-reinforced whilst providing greater durability or mechanical strength, or belonging in the ultra-high-performance category. Such concretes open up additional opportunities and new potentials for using precast elements in bridge construction. This paper initially refers to the use of precast elements both in Germany and on an international scale, primarily outlining design principles and fields of application in international bridge construction. Furthermore, this paper presents the knowledge and expertise gained to date as well as current trends. Reference will also be made to first examples of pioneering applications in Germany whilst discussing current developments and design considerations with a view to utilizing modern types of concrete, focusing on ultra-high-performance, fiber-reinforced concrete. In this context, this paper discusses related benefits and disadvantages as well as prerequisites and conditions for meaningful use. In addition, it presents experimental investigations into precast prestressed UHPFRC bridge components that are currently underway at the Chair of Concrete and Masonry Structures at TU Munich.

Related articles:

Issue 2017-02 Potentials for the precast industry

Bridge construction with UHPFRC precast elements

Stringent requirements for bridge structures due to rising traffic volumes, accompanied by the age structure of bridges in Germany, are calling for fast construction of new and replacement structures....

Issue 2017-02 Precast elements in bridge construction

New developments and international examples

A large number of new bridges need to be built in conjunction with maintaining and expanding the transport infrastructure in Germany. Precast construction can make a major contribution to achieving...

Issue 2010-07 Powered by Eirich

Taxiway bridge for Fraport expansion

During the night of May 8th - 9th, the first bridge girders were installed for the link that will connect the existing airport facility with the new northwest runway. The precast elements are...

Issue 2020-02 Modular concrete construction

Development of an innovative modular bridge

In Germany, modular bridge construction methods have so far been applied only to a limited extent compared to other European countries or North America. However, public road authorities are...


First fully prefabricated motorway bridge built in NRW, Germany

Following what could be termed a record-breaking short construction time of only 100 days, the new Hammacher Strasse bridge in Hagen in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, spanning...