What is the purpose of installation of shear keys in bridge abutment?

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In small and medium sized bridges, shear keys are often designed in bridge abutments to provide transverse support to the bridge superstructure under lateral loads. They are not intended to carry vertical loads and they have important applications in resisting seismic loads.

Shear keys in bridge abutment are divided into two types, exterior or interior. Exterior shear keys have the demerit of the ease of inspection and repair. The shear keys are designed as sacrificial and it is assumed that once their capacity has been exceeded, the shear keys would not provide further support. As such, the bridge columns should be designed to provide transverse support once the shear keys fail to function.


This question is taken from book named ā€“ A Self Learning Manual ā€“ Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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  • zain July 8, 2012 at 4:26 am

    i want to know the difference in function provided by the diaphram and shear key in bridges

  • zain July 8, 2012 at 4:27 am

    also what are the ideal locations for both of them..i have seen a flyover under construction and the saw shear key inside the diaphram indicated to me by the site Engineer it true ??

  • Radhakrishnan February 2, 2013 at 4:57 am

    What is the purpose of ā€ Lā€ bend in abutment column top in bridges?

  • Myo Min Tun January 27, 2020 at 5:33 am

    I want to know how to design the interior shear key.

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