Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

John J. Murphy

Second Advisor

Kieran Ruane


This research was focused on determining the feasibility of eliminating expansion joints and bridge bearings from existing short to medium span road bridges in Ireland. It is possible that this could provide a significant long-term economic benefit to bridge owners. A literature review was carried out as part of the research. This included investigations into research conducted in the areas of thermal movements of bridges, concrete creep and shrinkage, soil-structure interaction, lifetime costing, design standards and finite element analysis, and the elimination of bridge expansion joints in other countries.

Finite element analyses were carried out on two existing road bridges. These bridges are;

• A single-span road bridge in Glanmire, Co. Cork

• A three-span motorway bridge located south-east of Limerick city. Results were taken from the models and used to determine the changes in stresses and bending moments in the structures when the existing bridges are retrofitted to be made integral. The results are graphed and a detailed commentary is included.

Design recommendations are drawn based on the results, and design details are proposed.

An economic analysis of the works was also carried out, with a view to estimating the potential savings that could be made by carrying out the works proposed in this research. Conclusions are presented drawing from the finite element models, the economic analysis and the design recommendations included in the research.

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