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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-11-062    Date:  November 2011
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-062
Date: November 2011


Improved Corrosion-Resistant Steel for Highway Bridge Construction

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Plate girder bridges are usually fabricated from painted carbon steels or unpainted weathering steels. Weathering steels, including the modern high-performance steels, offer the lowest life-cycle cost (LCC) over the design life of the bridge because ongoing maintenance due to steel deterioration is not necessary in most service environments. However, in areas where a bridge is subject to high time-of-wetness or high chloride exposures (i.e., coastal areas or areas where large quantities of deicing salt are used), weathering steels are not effective because the protective patina does not develop, and the steel has a high corrosion rate. In these conditions, structural stainless steel ASTM A1010 (UNS S41003) provides sufficient corrosion protection so that painting is not necessary, and the bridge structure is maintenance-free during its design life.(1) The initial cost of stainless steel is more than twice the cost of carbon or weathering steel. Reducing the cost of stainless steel would improve the LCC of bridges in severe corrosion service conditions. This study was undertaken to identify steels with lower potential cost than ASTM A1010 that could be candidates for bridge construction while still providing low corrosion rates.

Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz
Director, Office of Infrastructure
Research and Development



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