Comparison of the Performance of Fiber Reinforced Plastic Dowel Bars to Epoxy-Coated and Stainless-Steel Dowel Bars

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  05/09/2023


The introduction of fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) dowels as possible alternatives to the epoxy-coated and stainless-steel dowels, was contemporaneous with a paucity of knowledge of their long-term performance. Although various isolated efforts had examined them on a short-term basis and produced some qualitative results or long-term predictive models, actual long-term performance in service was still unknown and unanalyzed. An experiment at the MnROAD Research facility placed FRP dowels in 2000 in some of the jointed plain concrete pavement (JPCP) panels of test Cell 52 and used epoxy-coated dowels in the remaining panels of this cell. The contiguity of this test cell with Cell 53, a JPCP high-performance concrete cell built in 2008 with stainless steel dowels, and Cell 54, a taconite JPCP cell with epoxy-coated dowels in built in 2004, facilitated a comparative analysis of performance of the 3 dowel types particularly in load transfer efficiency (LTE) and ride quality. The difference in the inception of the cells constrained a performance over time and encouraged a time-series autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) analysis. Projections to 30 years showed that LTE and ride quality of FRP dowels were no different from those of the epoxy-coated dowels and the stainless-steel dowels although Cell 53 was designed and built with thicker concrete (12-in. thick) compared to 7.5-in in cells 52 and 54.

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