The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standard Specifications or LRFD do not account for the presence of railings in the analysis and design of concrete slab bridges. This paper presents a parametric investigation of the influence of railing stiffness on the wheel load distribution in simply-supported, two-equal-span, and one- and two-lane reinforced concrete slab bridges using the finite-element analysis (FEA). A total of 160 bridge cases were modeled and bridge parameters such as span lengths and slab widths were varied within practical ranges. Various railing stiffness were investigated by assuming railings built integrally with the bridge deck and placed on both edges of the bridge. The FEA wheel load distribution and longitudinal bending moments were compared with reference bridge slabs without railings as well as to the AASHTO design procedures. Accordingly, the presence of railings reduced the FEA negative moments by a range of 54% to 72% and the FEA positive moments by a range of 40% to 61% depending on the railing stiffness. This reduction in slab moments due to the presence of railings could be considered an increase in the bridges load carrying capacity. The results of this investigation will assist bridge engineers in better designing and/or evaluating concrete slab bridges in the presence of railings. This could also be considered an alternative for strengthening existing concrete slab bridges.
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