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Rigid Pavement Mechanics

Dowel Bars
Allowable Bearing Stress
ACI Empirical Equation

 4d  
fb    fc
 3 

f b  allowable bearing stress

f c  concrete compressive strength
d  dowel bar diameter (in)
4

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Freberg (1940)

Pc  2   z 
yo 
4  Ed I d
3

Pc  load on the critical dowel bar

  relative dowel concrete stiffness
z  maximum joint opening (0.25 in)
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Actual Bearing Stress
Freberg (1940)

Kd d 4
4 Id 
4 Ed I d 64

Ed  elastic modulus of the dowel

I d  moment of inertia of the dowel
d  bar diameter
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Freberg (1940)

KPc  2   z t
 b  Kyo 
4  Ed I d
3

K  modulus of dowel support

 300  1500 ksi/in 
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Modulus of Dowel Support
Freberg (1940)

4
K  K 
 
 
1

b  3
K
 4 EI  d
4
3  4 EI   4 K
4  Ed I d  Kd  3 4 3
 K  4 EI
4   
 4 EI   4 EI 

b  K 4

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Dowel Spacing

Pt

Pc

1.8

10

P
Assumes 100% efficiency

P/2 P/2

12

P/2
P
Assumes 100% efficiency

P/2

13

P
Assumes 90% efficiency

0.55P 0.45P

14

0.45P
P
Assumes 90% efficiency

0.45P

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Example

Find the required dowel bar size for contraction

joints in a 10" concrete slab resting on a subgrade
material with a 200 psi/in modulus of subgrade
reaction. The design load is a 9,000-lb dual wheel
load centered 6" from the slab edge. Assume a 12"
dowel spacing.

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Example

EC h 3
 3, 000, 000 psi  1000 in3 
 4 4  33.6 in
12 1  2  k 12  0.9775  200 psi / in 

1.8  60 in

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Example

4050 lb

60"

0.6Pt 0.4Pt 0.2Pt

1.0Pt 0.8Pt

3.0Pt = 4050 lb
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Example

Assumptions

d = 1 in (Trial 1)
K = 1500 ksi/in
E = 30,000 ksi
z = 0.25 in

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4050# 4050#

84"

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Dowel Spacing (Updated)

Pt

Pc

1.0

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Dowel Spacing (Updated)

4050# 4050#

84"

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PCA Heuristics
Often, dowel bars are sized and spaced using heuristics.

AASHO originally recommended dowel diameters 1/8th the

slab thickness, which is 1" for an 8" slab, 1.25" for a 10"
slab, and 1.5" for a 12" slab.

PCA recommends using 1.25″ dowel bars for slabs up to

10″ thick and 1.5″ bars for slabs over 10″ thick. A common
size is 1.5″ by 18″ or 20″ long. The most common spacing
is 12″ center-to-center, but alternatives exist.

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Alternative Dowel Spacing

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Alternative Dowel Spacing

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