UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair

What is UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair?

Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) is a new material for bridge construction that has become popular for field-cast connections between prefabricated bridge elements. Bridge preservation and repair (P&R) is an emerging and promising application for UHPC. UHPC-based repair solutions are robust, and offer superior strength, durability, and improved life-cycle cost over traditional methods. State and local agencies can deploy UHPC for bridge preservation and repair to maintain or improve bridge conditions.

Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) offers enhanced durability and improved life-cycle cost performance for bridge preservation and repair.

Keeping bridges in a state of good repair is essential to keeping the transportation system operating efficiently. Agencies at all levels can deploy UHPC for bridge preservation and repair to maintain or improve bridge conditions cost effectively.

Stronger Repairs, Extended Service Life

Because of its strength and durability, UHPC can be an optimum solution for some repairs. UHPC can be used in situations that normally use conventional concrete or repair mortars, and in some cases those that use structural steel. Some UHPC mixes gain strength rapidly, so bridges could be opened to traffic 24 hours after completing the necessary repairs. Additionally, UHPC repairs are long lasting and resilient, requiring less maintenance and fewer follow-up repairs than conventional methods. In some cases, they can outlive and outperform their conventional counterparts—UHPC repairs could be the strongest and most durable part of the bridge.

Benefits

Versatility. UHPC can generally be used anywhere other types of concrete would be used, and due to its strength and durability, it can be the optimum material for many applications.

Durability. UHPC-based repairs are long-lasting and require less maintenance and fewer follow-up repairs.

Cost Savings. UHPC repairs can outlive and outperform their conventional counterparts, resulting in life-cycle cost savings. UHPC bridge deck overlays and link slabs can extend the service life of bridges well beyond that of traditional preservation and repair strategies.

Learn more about this EDC-6 Innovation.

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair in NJ

Stage of Innovation:
ASSESSMENT
(June 2022)

Using UHPC. NJDOT completed construction of two bridge preservation projects in 2020. The agency is currently gathering information on performance and usability from these two pilot projects, which include four bridges using UHPC overlay. First UHPC link slab application is in the construction phase. Additional UHPC Link-Slab applications are currently in the Final Design Phase

Communicating UHPC Information on Bridge Preservation & Repair. The State participated in workshops, webinars, or peer exchanges related to UHPC for Bridge P&R, including:

  • NJDOT Hosted FHWA Workshop UHPC EDC-6 P&R
  • International Bridge Conference Poster Session
  • NYSDOT UHPC Link-slab Peer Exchange 2022
  • ABC December 2022 presentation and paper

What’s Next?

The Future of UHPC for Bridge Preservation & Repair (P&R). The agency anticipates incorporating UHPC for bridge preservation and repair in its new design manual, using data collected from the current pilots and will further investigate performance and examine life cycle costs. NJDOT will use these indicators to determine future usage and applicability with additional research through the Bridge Research Program.

 

UHPC for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NEW & NOTEWORTHY 

UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair – NJ Efforts Highlighted

UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair – NJ Efforts Highlighted

The FHWA's EDC Newsletter of April 28th highlighted a project to test UHPC bridge preservation materials, in partnership with Rutgers University Below is a reprint ...
Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey

Stronger, More Resilient Bridges: Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) Applications in New Jersey

How the emerging innovation of Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) is being implemented in New Jersey. ...
Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

The FHWA's EDC News Weekly Newsletter featured how NJDOT has applied UHPC for bridge preservation and repair. ...
EDC-4 Final Report Highlights Innovations

EDC-4 Final Report Highlights Innovations

The EDC-4 Final Report highlights the results of round four of the Every Day Counts program to rapidly deploy proven innovations to enhance the transportation ...

UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair – NJ Efforts Highlighted

FHWA promotes UHPC for Bridge Preservation & Repair through its Every Day Counts (EDC-6) innovations. The FHWA's EDC Newsletter of April 28, 2022 featured Rutgers University's state-of-the-art Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST) center.  FHWA has sponsored the use of the BEAST to evaluate emerging bridge preservation technologies including UHPC.  Below is a reprint of the newsletter article that recognizes these efforts as its Innovation of the Month for UHPC Bridge Preservation and Repair.

BEAST® Facility (Credit: Rutgers University)

Wouldn’t it be great to quickly test the performance of a UHPC bridge deck overlay? It can be challenging to test and evaluate the long-term performance of new bridge preservation innovations because it would normally take years of monitoring the in-service behavior of such a technology on actual bridge structures to make an adequate assessment. Alternatively, Rutgers University’s state-of-the-art Bridge Evaluation and Accelerated Structural Testing (BEAST®) center provides a new opportunity to evaluate emerging preservation technologies. Built in 2015, the BEAST facility aims to develop high-quality data of bridge deterioration and to expand our knowledge of bridge performance through full-scale accelerated testing. The facility is capable of enclosing a 50-foot long bridge within an environmental chamber and subjecting the bridge to realistic rolling wheel loads, freeze-thaw cycles, and even the application of deicing chemicals. As a result, this facility can impose 10 to 20 years of ageing in less than 12 months.

FHWA is sponsoring the first project to utilize the BEAST® facility, and seeks to establish the long-term performance of bare reinforced concrete bridge decks and overlay systems among other variables. A two lane, 50 foot simply-supported bridge built with steel girders was constructed and began accelerated testing in 2019. To date, it’s been subjected to over 2-million passes of rolling load, 85 freeze-thaw cycles, and over 3000 gallons of salt brine. As a result, deck deterioration has reached a point where, in practice, an overlay would commonly be installed for rehabilitation and preservation purposes.

Rolling-Load Assembly in BEAST® Lab (left); Bridge Specimen in BEAST® Lab (right) (Credit: Rutgers University)

UHPC is one of the overlay systems that will be installed on this bridge specimen for evaluation. The UHPC overlay will be installed using materials and construction practices that are commonly deployed in the field. Once installed, accelerated testing will resume for at least 12 months, or until significant deterioration is again observed. Data will be collected, which will help establish quantitative measure of the overlays’ ability to perform long-term and under realistic conditions. Data already shows that UHPC is long-lasting and resilient, but at the end of this research, researchers will be able to say with greater confidence how long UHPC overlays may last in service.

For more information on UHPC for Bridge Preservation & Repair, contact Zach Haber, FHWA Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, or Justin Ocel, FHWA Resource Center.

Ultra-High Performance Concrete for Bridge Preservation and Repair: NJDOT Example Featured

This article first appeared in the FHWA’s EDC News Weekly Newsletter of April 29th, 2021 and featured how NJDOT has applied UHPC for bridge preservation and repair.

In the final week, we’ll highlight the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), which has recently used UHPC in multiple projects for bridge P&R.

NJDOT was familiar with the benefits of UHPC compared to conventional concrete through its use in field cast connections for precast bridge decks for re-decking projects. NJDOT had been looking for a new overlay preservation system for aging bridge decks that would enhance and extend the service life of their existing structures. However, the NJDOT had not used UHPC as a bridge deck overlay. NJDOT decided to install three UHPC bridge deck overlays as part of a research project contract. One of these projects, which was completed on a bridge spanning the Newark Turnpike, included both a UHPC bridge deck overlay and field-cast UHPC joint headers.

This curved 3-span bridge, originally built in 1979, feeds nearly 30,000 vehicles per day from the New Jersey Turnpike onto I–280. The heavy traffic and the impact of de-icing salts resulted in corrosion of the reinforcing steel in the existing bridge deck, as well as the deterioration of all abutment and pier expansion joints.

Prior to installation of the UHPC overlay and field cast UHPC headers, the existing asphalt overlay was removed, as were the deteriorated expansion joints. A new UHPC header expansion joint solution was installed, and after installation the finished UHPC overlay was covered with asphalt. The resulting 340-foot UHPC overlay is currently the longest continuous overlay installation in North America.

The overlay and the other two installations included in the project showed that preserving bridge decks with a UHPC overlay will provide NJDOT with durable, long-lasting bridge decks and will extend the service life of the structures. Additionally, the bridge overlays showed that UHPC overlay construction methods can minimize traffic interruptions and shorten the total construction time.