Extending the Lifespan of Reinforced Concrete Bridge Decks: Historical Analysis, Modeling, and Improved Contracting

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Emmenegger, Leonidas Philip
Kurtis, Kimberly E.
Stewart, Lauren K.
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Bridges are vital to the safe and efficient conveyance of people and goods around the world. For this reason they are considered critical structures. Despite their importance to society, bridges are often compromised by a wide range of deficiencies that require significant rehabilitation, replacement, and maintenance to remain in service. Understanding and mitigating deficiencies within each bridge component is crucial to extending the service life of the bridge. In order to gain insights into the degradation of reinforced concrete bridge decks, specifically, the bi-annual inspection reports of recently decommissioned decks in Georgia were analyzed. The findings indicated that corrosion or corrosion-related mechanisms were often present. Therefore, chloride-induced corrosion models best predict the degradation of decks in Georgia. To address uncertainty in the deck environments, the deck's degradation was modeled under a variety of conditions based on both literature values and the damage information from inspection reports. After establishing a baseline set of key corrosion parameters, alternative construction practices and materials were modeled and evaluated. The models predicted that alternative reinforcement had the greatest impact on service life. Incorporating supplementary cementitious materials in the deck mix designs, reducing surface cracking, improving top mat cover control, and applying surface coatings also appreciably affected the projected service lives. One way to implement these findings in practice is through contracting mechanisms that promote quality of construction. This research explores the use of various contracting mechanics to achieve extensions of service life through cover control. To demonstrate this approach, a sample adjustable payment plan for improved cover control was created.
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