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

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 – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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4 comments on "What is the purpose of installation of shear keys in bridge abutment?"

zain says:

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

zain says:

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 says:

What is the purpose of ” L” bend in abutment column top in bridges?

Myo Min Tun says:

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

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