Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Bartlett, Michael F.

2nd Supervisor

Newson, Timothy



Integral abutment bridges are jointless bridges where bridge decks and girders are integrated with abutments. The longitudinal displacements and rotations of the bridge are partially accommodated by the soil-pile system wherein the soil surrounding the piles generates active and reactive lateral forces when the piles deflect due to the movement of the superstructure. Since the soil stress-strain responses are inherently nonlinear, the pile deflection and the soil stiffness are interdependent. Consequently, evaluating soil-pile interactions requires a detailed geo-structural analysis. There are two common approaches used to idealize the soil-pile interactions for laterally loaded piles: the p-y and continuum mechanics approaches

This thesis first presents a critical review of the literature concerning integral abutment bridges and soil-pile interaction idealizations. Deformations of a specific free-ended single pile subjected to either a lateral force or moment at the pile head are idealized using the p-y and continuum mechanics approaches. Deformations and restraint force effects of a specific integral abutment subjected to thermally induced deformations or truck load is simulated with a 2-D finite element analysis with soil-pile interaction idealized using the two approaches. For both loading cases, influences of the two idealizations are compared and critically evaluated. A parametric study is conducted to investigate how the soil-pile interactions affect the response of bridges with various geometries, stiffnesses, and soil parameters. Further, this research presents a simplified model of an integral abutment and mechanics-based equations to quantify the deformations and restraint-induced load effects at the pile head and the end of the superstructure.

Summary for Lay Audience

Bridges expand and contract as temperature rises and drops. Conventionally these movements are accommodated by expansion joints at the end of the deck that are highly susceptible to corrosion and deterioration. To reduce or eliminate costly maintenance and expansion joint replacement costs, integral abutment designs have been developed to eliminate the expansion joints. As the deck of an integral abutment bridge expands or contracts, the bridge superstructure forces the foundations to move against the ground behind the abutments. It is challenging to create analytical models that accurately quantify the structural actions in the foundations and superstructure that are generated by restraint of this movement. The research reported in this thesis derives equations to predict the response of the integral abutment, and compares results obtained using two commonly adopted procedures for modelling the soil-structure interaction.