Bridge specifications do not consider the effect of parapet stiffness in the analysis and design of reinforced concrete slab bridges. This paper performs a parametric investigation using finite element analysis (FEA) to study the effects of parapet stiffness on live load-carrying capacity of two-span, three- and four-lane concrete slab bridges. This study analyzed 96 highway bridge cases with varied parameters such as span-length, bridge width, and parapet stiffness within practical ranges. Reinforced concrete parapets or railings, built integrally with the bridge deck, were placed on one and/or both sides of bridge deck. The longitudinal bending moments calculated using the FEA results were compared with reference bridge cases without parapets, as well as AASHTO Standard and LRFD specifications. The FEA results presented in this paper showed that the presence of concrete parapets reduces the negative bending moments by 15% to 60% and the positive bending moments by 10% to 45%. The reduction in longitudinal bending moments can mean an increase in the load-carrying capacity of such bridges depending on the parapet stiffness. This investigation can assist engineers in modeling the actual bridge geometry more accurately for estimating the load-carrying capacity of existing concrete bridges. Hence, new bridges can be designed by considering the presence of concrete parapets. Parapets can be used as an alternative for strengthening existing one and two-span reinforced concrete slab bridges.
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