A full-depth precast deck employs a series of precast concrete panels that are full-depth in thickness—as required by structural design—with the length and width determined by specific bridge geometry. The length of the panel along the roadway is approximately 8 to 12 ft. The width of the panels is typically equal to the full width of the bridge. Both the length and width are determined on a basis of handling and transportation. Generally, speed and economy are achieved with the use of the least number of panels.

System Components

Transverse Design

The precast deck panel system is designed using the strip design method, where a transverse strip of the deck is analyzed as a continuous beam supported by the bridge girders. The girders are considered rigid supports with no settlement. The strip method concept results in providing the main reinforcement in the transverse direction of the deck.

Panel-to-Girder Connection

Deck panels can be connected to supporting girders using either composite or non-composite connections. Shear connectors should be capable of resisting both horizontal and vertical movement between the concrete and the supporting system.

panel to girder connection

PCI has issued a complete report with the appendices providing state-of-the-art guidance relative to selecting, designing, detailing, and constructing precast full-depth decks for bridge construction. The information is applicable for new bridge deck construction or bridge deck replacement.

The first part is intended to provide an introduction to the relatively new technology of full-depth precast bridge deck panel system. It describes the system and shows the advantages of this system over the traditional CIP bridge deck.


Part two provides typical practice for design including transverse and longitudinal design along with design examples. Specifics include design thickness, transverse and longitudinal reinforcement, overhang design, impact to barrier, panel-to-girder connection, and longitudinal post-tensioning.

Part three provides examples of successful detailing including transverse joints, horizontal shear connection, leveling and temporary support, and haunch details between beam and deck. 


Part four provides information on the production, handling, and construction of full-depth precast deck panels. This includes quality control, construction operations, and wearing and protection systems.

Bridge Deck Installation