How Flexible Plug Joints Impact Our Highways

Plug Joints

Bridges are a vital element of our built environment. Personal and business lives would be severely impacted without such infrastructure. Its upkeep, therefore, must be maintained if we wish to journey safely and more conveniently.

Arch, beam, box girder, stressed ribbon, or cable stayed, bridges come in all shapes and sizes. Their design will depend upon location – rail, land or sea – and the volume of traffic each structure needs to withstand. However, bridges do have one thing in common: they are subject to continual movement. Strong wind, heavy traffic and temperature changes are among the common causes of structural motion, which although slight, will put pressure on a bridge’s decks over time. A bridge’s bearings, piers and abutments are also at risk from wear and tear induced by long-term movement stress, an issue that asphalt deck joints are designed to accommodate.

That is not to say the deck joints themselves are impervious to deterioration during a bridge’s service life. Leaking water and regular usage of harsh chemicals present in deicers can erode structural elements beneath the deck. This is more of an issue for deck joints which haven’t been installed correctly or maintained regularly. If left untreated, a deck joint’s seal with the pavement can be eroded, leading to traffic lane distresses. Such an outcome can severely reduce a bridge’s performance and result in a lengthy, costly repairs programme. Expansion joints help uphold a bridge’s performance by retaining their integrity in spite of cyclical changes in temperature and climate, thus ensuring surfaces remain smooth and watertight all-year-round. The Flexible Plug Joint (formerly known as an asphaltic plug joint APJ) was designed for such purpose.

Market-leading Flexible plug joint

One of the most popular bridge deck expansion joints on the market, the Flexible Plug Joint has a number of benefits. The joints are rapid and easy to install, as well as being simple to repair and maintain. Waterproof with an ability to heal beneath traffic loads and warm temperatures, Flexible Plug Joints are also relatively inexpensive to buy. They are resistant to snowplough impact and are able to be cold milled during surface repairs. Furthermore, they contribute towards noise reduction, which makes for a more pleasant surrounding environment. 

The IKO Permatrack H Flexible Plug Joint System is an all-in-one solution to the issue of debilitating deck joints. Comprising IKO Permatrack H high modulus mastic asphalt additional coarse aggregate, the system is suitable for movement joint applications with an overall design movement of 40mm in accordance with CD 357 ‘Bridge expansion joints’. The IKO Permatrack H Flexible Plug Joint includes all the components – anti-skid surface treatment, galvanised steel bridging plate, sub-surface drainage, joint gap membrane, movement strips – required to provide a flexible and watertight seal for bridge decks whilst maintaining the ability to withstand heavy traffic loadings. 

With more than 50 years’ expertise in mastic asphalt surfacing, IKO has adapted this traditional waterproofing material to keep pace with the need for more rapid, cost-effective, sustainable surface repair. In doing so, we haven’t compromised on performance, as testified by our rebranded IKO Road product range. We are helping to lift industry standards to even higher levels.