All Decked Out

by Dyab Khazem, (M.ASCE), Sr. Proj. Engr.; PTG Steinman, 110 William ST., Fl.13, NY, NY, 10038,
Kenneth Serzan, P.E., (M.ASCE), Vice Pres.; PTG Steinman, 110 William ST. Fl. 13, NY, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 6, Pg. 65-67

Document Type: Feature article


After 50 years of wear, the deck of New York City's Williamsburg Bridge was buckling and badly in need of replacement. In 1994, consultants recommended replacing the deck with an orthotropic deck, a lightweight, easily-installed deck system that would flex with the rest of the suspension bridge. Orthotropic decks have not been used on many bridges because their performance is difficult to model, analyze and predict accurately. Consultants for the Williamsburg Bridge developed computer models for the new deck system, then built a full-scale replica of several spans of the bridge and tested it through the laboratory equivalent of 85 years of service life. Using the test results, a new weld detail was designed for the orthotropic deck to minimize fatigue and potential cracking. Since the bridge reopened in 1997, the new deck has performed better than predicted using laboratory models.

Subject Headings: Bridge decks | Orthotropic materials | Computer models | Suspension bridges | Orthotropic bridges | Model accuracy | Fatigue tests

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