Dowel Bar Retrofit (DBR) performance in Texas

Dar Hao Chen, Moon Won, Feng Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last 10 years, TxDOT has utilized Dowel Bar Retrofit (DBR) in five projects. International Roughness Index (IRI), Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD), Rolling Dynamic Deflectometer (RDD), and coring were employed to evaluate DBR effectiveness in those five projects. Different versions of special specifications were utilized for each DBR project. The main variables in different versions of the specifications are grout material and slot width requirements. Out of the five projects, four projects (SH73, SH73/SH87, US69, and US287) have performed to the designers' satisfaction. Those four projects demonstrated that DBR was able to improve Load Transfer Efficiency (LTE) and minimize reflective cracking on an AC overlay. The US69 project reveals that after DBR, Diamond Grinding (DG) should be applied to restore the ride quality. Faulting of greater than 25 mm has been successfully corrected by DBR and DG on the US287 project, which still provides good ride quality after 6 years of service. The experiences from these four projects suggest that DBR with either DG or an AC overlay can be used effectively to extend pavement life and restore the ride if it is done properly. However, on the US59 project, the DBR performance is unsatisfactory. Visible faulting of 6.4 mm-9.4 mm developed in less than 2 years. It was found that the primary cause for the unsatisfactory performance was excessive voids under the dowel bar, which prevented proper load transfer at the joint. X-ray tomography results indicate that approximately 50% of the area under the dowel was void. The following four main variables were investigated in the laboratory for potential causes for voids around dowels: (1) time of placement after grout mixing, (2) vibration time of grout, (3) slot width, and (4) maximum aggregate size. It was found that maximum aggregate size, in the range of 9.5 mm-12.7 mm was not a critical factor for the consolidation of the grout. Although slot width above 63.5 mm may be beneficial, it was not a critical factor for grout consolidation either. The factors that had significant effects on consolidation of the grout were time of placement after mixing and vibration time. Delayed placement of the grout without vibration led to substantial voids. These two factors might be the causes for the voids under dowels that led to poor performance of DBR on US59. The most significant factor for the consolidation of grout materials is vibration. Although vibration has been included in the current Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) special specifications for DBR, it should be properly enforced to ensure optimum consolidation. Based on the test results, 20 s of vibration is recommended for each slot. In addition, it is preferable to place grout into the slots before the initial set takes place, or within the manufacturers' recommended working time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1762-1771
Number of pages10
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Diamond Grinding
  • Dowel Bar Retrofit
  • Faulting
  • Jointed concrete pavement
  • Load transfer efficiency


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