Category Archives: Concrete

Another corroded fixture found – Big Dig lighting problems continue

A work crew found another extensively corroded light fixture in a Big Dig tunnel last Thursday, state transportation officials said on Friday, five months after an identical 110-pound fixture came crashing down in the Tip O’Neill tunnel.

Workers driving through a ramp connecting Leverett Circle to the O’Neill Tunnel Thursday noticed a light was vibrating from a nearby jet fan and was askew. When they looked more closely, they found that five of the 10 clips that secured the light to the ceiling were corroded, leaving the light only partially secured.

Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan said the corroded fixture discovered Thursday had been inspected in May as part of a systemwide review that found widespread corrosion in the Big Dig tunnels. But Mullan could not say why the corrosion on the Leverett Circle light fixture was not discovered during the earlier inspection.

“We’re working it. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly,’’ he said. “I know it was next to a jet fan. I’ve got my engineering team working on it right now.’’

Workers removed the corroded light fixture discovered Thursday and then reattached it using plastic straps, a remedy that has been used on many lights in the Big Dig’s tunnels since the light fixture collapse in February. Of the system’s 25,000 light fixtures, more than 9,000 have been reinforced with straps.

Mullan, whose department came under criticism for not telling the public about the fallen light fixture for more than a month, announced the latest findings yesterday, unprompted, to reporters who were inquiring about his decision to step down later this year. The Massachusetts Transportation Department also posted a full report about the situation online yesterday.

Earlier this week, Mullan suspended the Big Dig’s top engineer, Helmut Ernst, after Ernst told the Globe that he and his colleagues were trained not to leave a paper trail about safety issues in the tunnels for fear of litigation.

The incident report suggested that forced air from the jet fan may have caused the Leverett Circle light to vibrate more than normal. The report also suggested that the testing conducted in May, which involved prying loose the clips that connect light fixtures to the ceiling, may have weakened those clips. That type of testing was suspended later in the month “because of the potential for damage’’ to the clips, the incident report showed.


Iowa bridges third-worst in the nation

At first glance, the two-lane bridge over Wapsinonoc Creek seems up-to-date. But a closer inspection reveals rusted bolts, graffiti, and crooked beams. More than 4,000 cars travel across it each day, and it has not been renovated since 1956.

The bridge, located in Muscatine County, is one of 5,000 bridges in Iowa classified as structurally deficient, giving Iowa the third-worst bridge conditions in the nation, according to a recently released report.

Although the report said bridges all over America are in a sad state of repair and getting worse, Iowa’s bridge problem stands out by several measures.

More than 40 percent of Iowa’s spans are more than 50 years old, which is the normal design life span of a bridge.

Nearly 22 percent — more than one in every five bridges — are structurally deficient, and that is almost double the national average. For comparison, the states doing the best job of keeping their bridges safe are Nevada, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Utah, where deficient bridges range from 2.2 percent to 4.5.

The report “The Fix We’re in For: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges,” was released in late March by Transportation for America, a group mainly concerned with maintaining the nation’s current infrastructure, according to spokesman David Goldberg.

The report’s findings put Pennsylvania and Oklahoma as the only states with a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges than Iowa.

“The nation’s bridges are aging and traffic demands are increasing, even as state and local revenues are shrinking,” the report said. And the problem is likely to keep getting worse, because state-level needs have nearly doubled since 2006.

The report called on the U.S. Congress “to ensure that [federal] funds sent to states for bridge repair are used only for that purpose.”

And it warned states that deferring maintenance of bridges is not only a safety risk but a false savings. “Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventive repairs,” it said.

On the list of the worst 100 counties, Iowa holds 17 of the spots, more than any other state, with Adams County being the 10th-worst in the country. Almost 47 percent of Adams County’s bridges are structurally deficient. Winnebago, Davis, Lucas, and Plymouth Counties not far behind. The counties with the safest bridges are Clinton and Jackson.

“We try, as money permits, to keep improving them,” said Eldon Rike, the bridge engineer for Adams County.

Out of the 24,722 bridges that motorists use in Iowa, 5,371 of them are considered structurally deficient, according to the study, meaning engineers have rated one of the three bridge components at a 4 or less on a scale from 0 to 9, 9 being the best condition. These numbers then contribute to the overall condition of the bridge, which is on a scale from 0 to 100. This number is called the “sufficiency rating.”

“We’ve known about this for a while,” said Norm McDonald, the director of the Office of Bridges and Structures for the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We use the funding and do the best we can.”


Cincinnati museum center pitches $150M bond

Money would be used 
to help repair the 
80-year-old building.

Union Terminal is literally pushing itself apart.

Officials at the Cincinnati Museum Center went before the Hamilton County Commissioners Monday to ask for a $150 million bond to be put on the November ballot to help repair the 80-year-old building.

The commissioners didn’t say “no” to passing a proposal to the levy review committee, and Cincinnati Museum Center Board Chairman Otto Budig Jr. said they were “receptive to our point of view.”

In an independent study conducted by Cole Russell Architecture and Design at the request of the museum, they found the building is showing signs of “significant accelerated deterioration” as a result of the 1931 construction of the exterior wall system.

Specifically, the lack of internal flashing to expel moisture from the wall system has led to the corrosion of the internal steel I-beams. That moisture allows for the building’s inner structure to expand and bulge, leading to cracks behind the walls of the building’s hallmark original murals. That’s only one example of structural deterioration.

The more cracks there are throughout the building’s façade, the more water moisture seeps in, leading to a further deterioration of the steel I-beams, said Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Doug McDonald.

As a result, repair costs will increase at an exponential rate, McDonald said. And as deficiencies continue they have a compounding effect over time,in causing accelerated deterioration.

McDonald said now is the best time for the $150 million bond to be put on the November ballot.

“It will cost more later if we delay the repairs,” McDonald said. “This is the most cost-effective time to do it as construction costs are lower than they have been in a few years and interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades.

“If we miss the opportunity of low costs, then the cost goes up significantly.”

If repairs are delayed to 2016, it will cost upward of $225 million instead, $75 million more than the projected 2011 total, and the museum center is incapable of raising those kinds of funds, McDonald said.

“The public owns the building and we can’t raise that much money,” McDonald said. “It’s not our building, we’re a tenant, and so we need the public to help us with this.”

The bond issue would cost approximately $11 per year for a resident with a $100,000 home, Budig told commissioners on Monday. If voters pass the repair work, it would bring up to 1,200 jobs to the area, McDonald said.

The deadline to put issues on the ballot is Aug. 10 and a spokesperson for Commissioner Chris Monzel said the board is still reviewing the proposal before it the would consider passing it on to county’s review committee.

Although the city, not the county, owns the building, as Monzel pointed out on Monday, McDonald said the county is responsible for repairs.

“The city owns the building, the county owns the improvements, and there is more value in the improvements than the building,” McDonald said. “If you bought a building for a $1 million and you had a partner that put in $10 million into the building, then who owns the building?

“It’s the county’s asset.”


Spring River bridge to be replaced due to corrosion

If the deck on the Missouri Highway 96 bridge over the Spring River near Kellogg Lake Park were rated any worse, the bridge would have to be closed.

According to Jerry Davis, a transportation project manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation, the deck of the Highway 96 bridge that crosses Spring River received a rating of three on the department’s nine-point scale for rating bridge decks, superstructure and sub structure, due to a significant corrosion problem.

“A new bridge would be a nine and if the rating falls to two it needs to be closed,” Davis said. “The deck is saturated with salt water from snow removal and it has eaten away at the steel in the deck.”

That’s why MoDOT plans to replace the bridge in the summer of 2012. The project will likely start in May or early June and last between 90 and 120 days. A detour has yet to be determined, Davis said.

Most cars and light trucks can get around the construction by using North Garrison Street and County Route V in Kendricktown, but the nine-ton weight limit on the three bridges on North Garrison Street means tractor trailers will have to take a different route.

Davis said the official detour will be established to carry all traffic around the construction.

Davis said the deck has been patched many times but that doesn’t fix the underlying problem.

Davis and Mike Hobbs, a transportation project designer with MoDOT, set up a map of the area for the public to examine at Tuesday’s meeting, but attendance was light.

City Administrator Tom Short, Chamber President Sabrina Drackert and City Council Member Ed Hardesty came early to learn the specifics of the project and offer comments.

Short showed Hobbs and Davis the Visioning Plan created by the students from Drury University for enhancements to the entrances to Carthage, especially on Missouri 96 where many tourists traveling the historic Route 66 enter and leave town.

The plans call for sweeping structures to enhance the look of the bridges coming into Carthage.

Davis said the department would look at those plans, but the department currently plans to replace that bridge with something similar.

“I don’t see where we can do much about the esthetics,” Davis said. “We’re trying to stretch every dollar we have and to do something like that would add too much cost to the bridge.”

He said the new bridge would look similar to the one that’s there now except it would have concrete girders instead of steel and it would be slightly longer — 505 feet versus the current 490 feet.

Davis said the state plans to replace another bridge on County Route O over Spring River south of Alba at the same time it is replacing the Carthage bridge.

People who could not attend these meetings may go on the Internet to to express opinions or voice concerns.


Aging U.S. 2 trestle gets needed corrosion repairs

With thousands of vehicle trips daily, U.S. 2 gets needed repairs

EVERETT (WA) — Concrete is falling off in chunks, rebar is rusting and thousands of people drive over the westbound U.S. 2 trestle every day.

While the girders on the trestle’s underbelly have been slowly deteriorating for more than 20 years, state transportation officials say there’s no doubt the bridge is safe for drivers. Repairs are being made this summer and fall.

About 37,000 vehicles per day use the trestle in one direction or the other.

“There’s no problem with people driving on the structure,” said Chad Brown, project engineer for the trestle repair. “The structure is safe.”

Workers are restoring the exposed rebar, replacing the concrete on the girders and sealing them to keep them waterproof. The repairs are expected to preserve the girders on the now 43-year-old span until 2026 or longer. The $8 million project began earlier this month and is expected to be finished in the early fall.

The roadway on the trestle is built atop girders made of concrete and rebar, running lengthwise with the roadway, sitting atop crossbeams that in turn sit on pillars. The eastbound half of the trestle was built with timber in the 1930s and rebuilt in sections in the 1990s, according to the state. The westbound side was built in 1968.

By 1987, crumbling began to show on the concrete beams on the underbelly of the westbound structure, and the bridge was declared “structurally deficient.” The term is a federal designation meaning that a bridge has a part or parts that will eventually need to be repaired, not that it is unsafe, according to the state. Washington currently has 143 bridges in this category, including seven in Snohomish County.

Under the state’s routine inspection program, bridges are examined every two years. Some with more structural issues are put on a yearly schedule, and the trestle has been inspected every year since 2003.

The section currently being repaired was done four years after the other section because of funding issues and environmental regulations involved in working over Deadwater Slough, officials said.

The current repairs are being done in the same manner as in 2007. The bridge at the far west end of the trestle, over the Snohomish River, is newer and won’t be repaired in this cycle.

Engineers are confident the moisture has not further penetrated the beams. So far, the farthest into any beam that weak concrete has been found is a couple of inches.

Traffic on the westbound trestle will be shut down for up to 65 nights through early October for the concrete and carbon-fiber mesh work. These phases have to be done when there’s no traffic on the road so vibrations won’t prevent the concrete from setting properly or keep the mesh from bonding to the concrete, engineers said.

The trestle was closed for three nights on June 9, 14 and 16 while two sections were repaired. It’s possible the work will take less than the 65 nights. The next closure is planned for July 12.

If the girders are not repaired, beams and the rebar would continue to deteriorate, and longer closures would be needed, engineers said.

Nancy Singer, a spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration, said federal engineers say the work being done on the trestle appears to be appropriate.

“State departments of transportation are the owners and operators of infrastructure and are in a position to select the best approach to addressing the needs of a bridge,” she said in an email.

“The U.S. Route 2 project that calls for replacing old cracking concrete, removing corrosion from the steel frame, and reinforcing the girders on the underside of the viaduct seems to be based on sound and established approaches to bridge repair and rehabilitation.”


Bridge collapse “linked to excessive Four Rivers dredging” reports that dredging to expedite operations around a pier allegedly exposed a Korean bridge to corrosion which ultimately led to its collapse.

The Waegwan Railroad Bridge in Yangmok Township, Chilgok County, North Gyeongsang Province (also known as the “Bridge of National Defense”), after standing solidly for the last hundred years, collapsed in light monsoon rain.

The bridge, which, after being built across the Nakdong River in 1905, had withstood not only major typhoons such as Maemi and Sara but also the greatest Korean flood in the 20th century, in 1925, is a registered modern cultural property.

The bridge collapsed at around 5.15am on June 25. The Nakdong River had swollen due to rain that had been falling since June 22, when the bridge’s second pier suddenly collapsed, leaving a 100m stretch of the bridge stuck in the water.

Several thousand people cross the bridge, now used by pedestrians only, every day, but the fact that the collapse occurred in the early hours of the morning meant that there were, luckily, no injuries.

“It appears that this occurred because of heavy rainfall, which led to higher water levels and a higher rate of flow,” the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) said on June 25 regarding the cause of the accident.

At the time of the collapse, dredging as part of construction for the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project was in full swing. The swollen water was forming eddies above the riverbed, into which dredgers had dug deep. The rapid currents hit the piers supporting the bridge hard. It appears that the pier had been weakened.

“This is because dredging for Four Major Rivers Restoration Project had taken place around the pier, just like everywhere else. If the riverbed is excavated to a significant depth around a pier, the base of the pier is exposed and begins to be eroded by the flowing water,” the report claimed.

Protective work to reduce corrosion had not taken place, moreover, on the second pier. An environmental impact assessment and reinforcement plan for Waegwan Railroad Bridge submitted by Busan Regional Construction Management Administration (BRCMA) stipulate that construction work to shore up all seven piers of the bridge must take place.

“Last year, when we ran out of places to process the huge amounts of dredged matter, we reduced dredging volumes and the plans for dredging around Waegwan Railroad Bridge were also changed,” said an official at BRCMA. “We made the judgment that there was no need to shore up the second pier because the plans to dredge around it were canceled.”

Despite the changed plans, BRCMA did not notify the local environment office at Daegu. The work went forcibly ahead with no assessment of safety and the river brought down the second, and weakest, pier.

Park Chang-kun, professor of civil engineering at Kwandong University, said, “The construction work went forcibly ahead in order to meet the deadline, with no alternative sought despite an important change in plans.”


Gardiner structurally sound, experts say, after chunk smashes onto road

TORONTO: City crews will be examining sections of the Gardiner Expressway after a 4.5-kilogram chunk of concrete fell onto Lake Shore Blvd. W. earlier this week, hitting a guardrail and ricocheting into the road.

The slab, about four centimetres thick and over a meter long, was sloughed off the bottom of the elevated section, its steel reinforcing bars corroded by road salt.

No cars were hit and no one was injured. Two lanes of westbound traffic just east of Bathurst St. were temporarily closed.

The incident is the fourth in recent memory, but does not mean that drivers should steer clear of Lake Shore, city staff said.

“There really shouldn’t be any concern,” said Mike Laidlaw, Toronto’s acting manager of structures and expressways.

Aside from the dangers inherent in a chunk of concrete weighing almost as much as a bowling ball falling from the sky, the expressway itself is sound, experts say.

“The stuff on the outside, most of it could fall off without affecting the structural integrity,” said R. Doug Hooton, a civil engineering professor at the University of Toronto. “(The overpass) is not in danger of falling.”

Laidlaw said the city will be conducting extra inspections around the area. Toronto is also putting out a call for proposals from engineering firms for a complete inspection within two years.

City crews inspect the Gardiner yearly — “sounding” the concrete for unstable pieces and removing them with a hammer — and conduct visual inspections at least every six months.

“If they do see any areas of concern they’ll look after it immediately,” said Laidlaw.

In January 2007, a piece of concrete about the size of a basketball fell onto Lake Shore near York St. and narrowly missed hitting a car. A small piece fell near Spadina Ave. in February 1999 and near York St. in January 1997.

“It is a concern for anybody underneath of it,” said Laidlaw.

Hooton said the Gardiner was designed before Ontario began salting roads in the winter, so it wasn’t constructed to withstand the salt that seeps through the roadway and into the steel reinforcing bar.

The salt rusts the rebar which then expands, cracking the concrete and pushing the outer layer off. Repair work was done years ago to the road’s drainage system to prevent salt from seeping into the concrete.

“It’s not happening as much as it would have if they hadn’t done those repairs,” said Hooton.

Police said no one reported any damage to a vehicle and there were no injures.

By 3 p.m. Monday, city crews had cleared debris off the road and unblocked all westbound lanes on Lake Shore Blvd.

The incident called to mind a horrific accident in Quebec five years ago. Five people were killed when a 40-year-old Laval overpass fell onto a highway on Sept. 30, 2006, crushing several vehicles.

A year later, a commission report into the accident blamed shoddy workmanship, insufficient oversight and deficient maintenance.


Corrosion under the Lincoln Street Bridge is prompting the City of Wichita to begin building a new bridge

Lincoln Bridge Closing Disrupts Local Fishermen

“I know they’ve got to do their job but it’s going to affect a lot of the good fishing down through there,” said Kenneth Snell, with a fishing rod in one hand, ready to fish south of the Lincoln Street Bridge.

Fishermen along the Arkansas River were not looking forward to finding new spots to make a catch.

“This is the best spot. The heads are taking it down from us but we could wait. We don’t have no other choice,” said Snell.

The 40-year-old bridge is located above a dam that has been wearing down the support and steel. City engineers said patching up the problems would be too costly.

“Even though the existing bridge could be repaired, we’ve done an economical analysis and found that it was more economical to construct a new bridge and then move the current dam out from underneath,” said Jim Armour, city engineer for the City of Wichita.

The new dam will be moved about 200 feet downstream from its current location. Engineers said the new dam will help stabilize river levels upstream.

“Although this won’t completely eliminate any flooding upstream, it’ll reduce the occasions of that,” said Armour.

Starting Monday, engineers will lower river levels. This is something engineers said will be helpful in the long-run.

“The citizens will see a lot more stability in the river level upstream once the new dam is completed,” said Armour. “I think this bridge will have a service life of 50 to a hundred years.”

Although fishermen didn’t like the move, they said they’re looking forward to a new bridge.

“Whenever they do get through it, I know it’ll look nice,” said Snell.

The Lincoln Street Bridge will be closed to pedestrians and motorists starting Monday. Traffic will be detoured using Harry Street, McClean Boulevard, and both Main and Market Streets.

The project is expected to be complete by the fall of 2012.


Engineers use Route 23 bridge in Wayne to study corrosion

WAYNE – An international team of engineers and researchers, each dressed in a yellow vest and hard hat, on Tuesday poked and prodded – so to speak – at a steel string bridge, looking for signs of deterioration & corrosion.

International engineers conduct a study of highway bridge deterioration using a bridge on Route. 23 in Wayne for the test.

As drivers whizzed by without giving thought to the condition of the structure, the engineers were unleashing a variety of high tech tools – ground penetrating radar, ultrasonic equipment and impact echoing technology – to aid them in evaluating the bridge deck that spans Route 23. The bridge carries traffic over Mountainview Boulevard in Wayne.
They are part of the “International Bridge Study,” a project organized by the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University in June 2010. It brings together engineers and researchers from Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Korea, the United States and other nations to study the North Jersey bridge, according to Carl Blesch, a spokesman for Rutgers University.

Their purpose is two-fold. They are looking for ways to identify bridge corrosion early so that it can be treated earlier – when the cost is less expensive. They are also looking for ways to treat corrosion that extends the life of infrastructure in their own countries.

“We have no sustainable path forward to manage our infrastructure,” said Franklin Moon, an associate professor of structural engineering at Drexel University, a lead engineer on the project.

“If you want a public infrastructure system, someone has to pay for it. Public infrastructure costs more now than it has to cost,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of money on repairs we might not need to do if we can catch them early.”

Moon said there are 600,000 bridges in the nation and 66,000 in New Jersey. He said he believes agencies are spending more to maintain bridges than they need to because bridge repairs often do not occur until the deterioration has progressed significantly.

He said corrosion expands the rebar in the bridge and when it expands, it pops the concrete, creating a pothole. If the corrosion is detected earlier, it can be treated – with a corrosion inhibitor, for instance – which can prevent it from expanding, he said.

“It’s analogous to finding cancer early so you can deal with it,” he said. “Find cancer late and you’re in trouble … If you let that go to the point that it’s spalling and you’ve got potholes, now you’re out there with a jack hammer and replacing it.”

Moon said the New Jersey Department of Transportation selected the Wayne bridge to study because it is representative of 2,600 other bridges in the state. They all have similar drainage, deck quality and vibration issues, he said.

This bridge, which was built in 1983, handles about 73,100 vehicles a day, said Tim Greeley, spokesman for the state transportation department.

It was last inspected in July 2010, and “is in overall fair condition,” he said.

Greeley said all bridges 20-feet in length or longer are inspected at least every two years.

The teams will meet for a workshop June 14 and 15 to share findings and make recommendations.