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Detailing Corner

Closure Strips
and Lapped

closure strip, otherwise known as a pour strip, is

typically a temporary gap between two separate
concrete slab placements. The closure strip is subsequently infilled with concrete at a later date. Closure
strips are common with staged construction where there
is a construction sequence involved in casting the slab.
Applications of closure strips can be found in bridge deck
construction, post-tensioned (P/T) slab construction, and
normal two-way slab building construction.

Bridge Decks

Closure strips in a bridge deck are required when an

existing deck is replaced under staged construction or


Joint ACI-CRSI Committee 315-B,

Details of Concrete ReinforcementConstructibility, has developed forums
dealing with constructibility issues for
reinforced concrete. To assist the
Committee with disseminating this
information, staff at the Concrete Reinforcing Steel
Institute (CRSI) are presenting these topics in a
regular series of articles. If you have a detailing
question you would like to see covered in a future
article, please send an e-mail to Neal Anderson, CRSIs
Vice President of Engineering, at nanderson@crsi.org
with the subject line Detailing Corner.

bridge widening. More than likely, one-half of the deck

would be closed per construction phase, while traffic is
maintained on the other half. The closure strip is located
near the center of the deck, transversely, and extends the
full length of the bridge. It serves to reduce the effect of
adjacent traffic live load vibrations during concrete
curing. The joint is usually left open for as long as
possible to permit transverse shrinkage of the deck
concrete to occur.
Representative requirements from the Nevada and
South Carolina bridge manuals indicate that closure
strips should have a minimum width of 3 ft (0.9 m) and
contain the lap splices for the transverse reinforcing
steel.1,2 The width may be greater, however, to account
for the anticipated relative dead load deflection between
Stage 1 and 2 concrete placements, across the closure
strip. Both bridge manuals indicate two very useful
purposes of the closure strip: 1) it delays final connection
of the two stages of concrete work until deflection from
the deck slab dead weight has occurred; and 2) it provides
the deck width necessary to facilitate differences in the
final deck grade resulting from theoretical deflection
calculations and/or construction tolerances.

P/T Slabs

Closure strips in P/T slabs allow the separate slab

sections to have ample time to shorten, and thus
minimize any restraint cracking. Shortening has many
components in a P/T slab and can be attributed to:
Elastic shortening due to precompression;
Creep shortening due to precompression;
Shrinkage of concrete; and
Temperature gradients.
The Post-Tensioning (PT) Manual 3 provides guidance
for the use of closure strips and the length of the slab
between closure strips:
Concrete international

/ April 2011


Fig. 1: Typical closure strip detail3 (Note: 1 ft = 0.3 m; 1 in. = 25 mm)

(image courtesy of the Post-Tensioning Institute)


Fig. 2: Examples of closure strips in P/T construction: (a) forms,
reinforcing bars, and P/T tendons shown prior to concrete
placement; and (b) completed closure strip showing sealant in
the construction joints (photos courtesy of the Post-Tensioning Institute)


April 2011

/ Concrete international

If the slab length is less than 250 ft (76 m), no closure

strip or expansion joint is necessary;
For slab lengths between 250 and 325 ft (76 and 99 m),
provide one centrally located closure strip;
If the slab length is between 325 and 400 ft (99 and
122 m), consider using two closure strips open for at
least 60 days; and
For slabs greater than 400 ft (122 m), an expansion
joint is recommended.
These are guide recommendations, and the plan
location of stiff elements and slab geometry can influence
the above recommendations.
The closure strip width in P/T construction is generally
3 ft (0.9 m), but it must provide an adequate space to
position a stressing jack to conclude stressing operations
of the P/T tendons. In addition to the tendons, reinforcing
bars will extend from each slab and lap within the closure
strip to provide continuity between the slabs. Typically, a
closure strip will be placed at the quarter point of the
span, where design moments are small. Figure 1 shows a
typical closure strip detail from the PT Manual. Figure 2
illustrates actual closure strips on P/T slabs during and
after construction.

Closure Strip Width

From a reinforcing bar standpoint, designers may err

by dimensioning the width of a closure strip narrower than
the lap length required for the reinforcement passing
through them. The width of a closure strip should be
equal to the length of the lap splice, plus at least 3 in.
(75 mm). Figure 3 shows a suggested detail for a closure
strip; (a) where only bottom reinforcement is provided;
and (b) top and bottom reinforcement exists. Note that
when both top and bottom reinforcement is present, the
width of the closure strip needs to accommodate the longer
lap splice length. The additional 3 in. (75 mm) width
is necessary to accommodate cutting and bending
tolerances of the reinforcement.
The same concern can also be expressed for slab
infills. Figure 4 shows a suggested detail for a slab infill
with an additional 3 in. (75 mm) of clear space in both
directions to accommodate cutting and fabrication
tolerances of the reinforcing bars.
In the case of a closure strip with seismic chord steel
passing through, there is the added complication of
providing for the lapping of the chord steel. Diaphragm
chord steel and collector element steel usually have long
lap splice lengths, which would require unacceptably
wide closure strips. Consequently, lap splices are normally
not an option for chord steel and mechanical splices are
used instead. Figure 5 illustrates a suggested detail of a



Fig. 3: Typical closure strips for cast-in-place construction: (a) bottom reinforcing steel only; and (b) top and bottom reinforcing steel
(image courtesy of Condor Rebar Consultants, Inc.)

closure strip with top and bottom reinforcement and

chord steel.
When determining the required lap splice lengths of
the reinforcing bars, its worth noting ACI 318-08, Section
12.2.5, which permits a reduction in tension development
based on the amount of reinforcement required versus the
amount of reinforcement provided.4 (Note: lap splice
lengths are multiples of tension development lengths;
Class A = 1.0 d and Class B = 1.3 d.) As noted earlier,
closure strips are usually placed where moments are
small, so the amount of reinforcement in the closure strip
could very well be more than is structurally required at
that location.
As a simple example, if the amount of reinforcement
within the closure strip is twice what is structurally
required, ACI 318 would permit a 50% reduction in the lap
splice length. Note that there is a limit to how much the
lap splice length can be reduced: Section 12.2.1 requires
that the tension development length not be less than
12 in. (400 mm).

Fig. 4: Simple supported slab infill panel (image courtesy of Condor

Rebar Consultants, Inc.)

Use of Mechanical Splices/Couplers

Sometimes its not possible to make the closure strip

wide enough to accommodate a reinforcing bar splice. In
such cases, a grouted mechanical splice sleeve or a
threaded coupler should be considered.

Grouted sleeve

The bars to be connected to maintain continuity

should be aligned both horizontally and vertically.
The grouted coupling sleeve is installed by sliding
the sleeve all the way over on one bar. The bar ends
are then aligned and the sleeve is slid back over the
other bar to be connected. The bar ends will meet
in the center of the sleeve with a 1 to 2 in. (25 to
50 mm) gap, which is dependent on the bar size
and manufacturers recommendations. The ends of

Fig. 5: Top and bottom reinforcing steel with chord or collector

element bars (image courtesy of Condor Rebar Consultants, Inc.)

the grout sleeve are then sealed, and the sleeve

is grouted.5
The grouted sleeve will have a diameter that is greater
than the bars being connected. Thus, its important to
verify that the slab thickness can accommodate the
Concrete international

/ April 2011


sleeve diameter, top and bottom concrete cover, and an

allowance for alignment tolerances.

Threaded coupler

Another option for the closure strip is the use of

threaded couplers. Figure 6 shows a sectional detail from
the New York State Thruway Authority where threaded
couplers are employed on both faces of the longitudinal
construction joint to facilitate the lap splice in the
closure strip.6 This detail provides an advantage in that
the bars from the previous staged concrete placement
are not hanging in the closure strip gap, and possibly
offering restrictions or interference to the operations in
the second stage of construction. When the closure strip
(Stage 3) is readied for concrete work, the short lengths
of reinforcing bars are inserted into the threaded couplers
and lap spliced. Figure 7 shows an example of this
splice type.

Some Additional Considerations

Bending bars to be spliced

The practice of bending up reinforcement in staged

construction closure strips and then rebending the bars
down should be avoided. This is sometimes done on
bridge decks because of restricted access or the contractors
perception that they are in the way anyway. The
Structures Manual from the New York State Thruway
Authority prohibits this practice because its very

difficult to realign the bars properly, and the reinforcing

bar coating is likely to become damaged in the bending/
rebending operation.6
Depending on the bar size and temperature condition,
damage to the parent bar could also occur. To avoid any
problems, preheating the reinforcing bars during the
bending/rebending operation may be warranted, but it
might be impractical because of the presence of bar
coatings. Thus, this practice is discouraged.

Shear transfer

Once a closure strip is installed, shear transfer across

the joint is assumed to occur via shear friction. The
reinforcement running through the closure strip is
assumed to provide the requisite clamping force for
shear friction to occur. The interface surface needs to be
clean and rough so the freshly placed closure strip
concrete can bond and develop an interface shear
strength. If the mating surfaces are not well prepared or
the closure strip concrete shrinks excessively, the joint
may actually open, thus negating any bond and reducing
the shear transfer mechanism; a lower coefficient of
friction () may be warranted under such circumstances.
The shear transfer only becomes an issue when highly
concentrated loads are anticipated across the jointfor
example a bridge deck with concentrated wheel loads or
forklift loads on a P/T slab. Partially because of this issue,
the Nevada and South Carolina bridge manuals prohibit

See Fig. 7
for typ. coupler

Fig. 6: Closure strip detail6 (Note: 1 in. = 25 mm) (image courtesy of Ted Nadratowski, Chief Engineer, New York State Thruway Authority)


April 2011

/ Concrete international

the longitudinal construction joint in

a closure strip to be located beneath
a wheel line on the deck.1,2
The closure strip detail shown
in the PT Manual provides good
guidance to address the shear transfer
mechanism (Fig. 1).3 Specifically, the
detail calls for shear keys, use of
nonshrink concrete, and roughening
and cleaning the joints. The detail
also provides suggestions for waterproofing, should the closure strip be
located in an aggressive environment
(that is, outdoors or in a parking
garage). Figure 6 also shows the
addition of shear keys across the
longitudinal joint for the staged
construction of the bridge deck.

Design Considerations

Fig. 7: Taper-threaded bar and coupler5

(ACI 439.3R-07), American Concrete

Institute, Farmington Hills, MI, 2007, 20 pp.
6. Thruway Structures Design Manual,
fourth edition (U.S. Customary Units), New
York State Thruway Authority, Albany, NY,
March 2010.

Thanks to Dick Birley of Condor Rebar

Consultants, Inc., and Neal Anderson
of CRSI for providing the information in
this article.
Selected for reader interest by the editors.

The designer should carefully

consider the dimensions of closure
strips and slab infills and their impact
on the reinforcing bar details. Chord
and collector element reinforcing bars
significantly complicate the issue and
specific consideration should be given
to them.
The aforementioned examples
illustrate situations involving slabs,
but the same principles would apply
to other concrete members such as
walls, spandrels, and beams.

1. NDOT Structures Manual, Nevada
Department of Transportation, Carson City,
NV, 2008.
2. SCDOT Bridge Design Manual, South
Carolina Department of Transportation,
Columbia, SC, 2006.
3. Post-Tensioning Manual, sixth edition,
Post-Tensioning Institute, Farmington Hills,
MI, 2006, 354 pp.
4. ACI Committee 318, Building Code
Requirements for Structural Concrete
(ACI 318-08) and Commentary, American
Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI,
2008, 473 pp.
5. ACI Committee 439, Types of
Mechanical Splices for Reinforcing Bars
Concrete international

/ April 2011