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Research and Development (R&D) Project Sites

Project Information
Project ID:   FHWA-PROJ-11-0046
Project Name:   Better Understanding of Weathering Steel Performance
Project Status:   Active
Start Date:  June 1, 2011
End Date:  September 30, 2014
Contact Information
Last Name:  Ocel
First Name:  Justin
Telephone:  202-493-3080
E-mail:  justin.ocel@dot.gov
Office:   Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Team:   Bridge and Foundation Engineering Team [HRDI-40]
Program:   High-Performing Steel Bridge
Project detail
Roadmap/Focus area(s):   Infrastructure Research and Technology Strategic Plan and Roadmap
Project Description:   The contractor will evaluate (but is not limited to) the following: chloride concentration; humidity; industrial pollutant levels; temperature; time of wetness; and geometric factors, such as horizontal and vertical clearance, that may cause poor weathering steel performance. It is envisioned that project success will rely heavily on field performance evaluation of a sample of weathering steel bridges from across the entire United States. The contractor is expected to apply simple and meaningful test protocols, which can be used to define the macroenvironments and microenvironments, that influence weathering steel performance. In addition, the contractor shall document the relevant bridge geometric factors.
To better understand the macroenvironments or microenvironments and the geometric design variables that influence the corrosion performance of weathering steel. 
Background Information:   In the 1980s, some States began to experience less than desirable performance of their weathering steel bridges, because the bridges were corroding much faster than anticipated. This prompted the Federal Highway Administration to issue Technical Advisory 5140.22 on October 3, 1989. This advisory gave broad and detailed guidance to bridge owners about locations where weathering steel should not be used, such as coastal, high humidity, or industrial environments; and grade separations or low-level water crossings. As stated in the 1989 advisory, “Further work is needed to quantify and understand the performance of uncoated weathering steel in a variety of circumstances and conditions.” The Federal Highway Administration is embarking on a research program aimed at addressing this comment and revising the 1989 technical advisory.
Product Type:   Draft standard, specifications, or guidelines
Test Methodology:   Field evaluations.
Partners:   Federal Highway Administration: Office of Research, Development, and Technology - Office of Infrastructure Research and Development; Role(s): Technical
Expected Benefits:   Reduced first costs, provided weathering steel can be specified, and reduced maintenance costs in situations where weathering steel is performing poorly.
Deliverables: Name: Final report.
Product Type(s): Techbrief, Draft standard, specifications, or guidelines
Description: The contractor will draft a final report outlining the selection of bridges in the United States for evaluation, the data collected from each bridge, and analysis of that data. The contractor should also recommend changes to the Federal Highway Administration's Technical Advisory 5140.22 based on the results of the field studies.
FHWA Topics:   Roads and Bridges--Asset Management
TRT Terms:   Weathering Steel
Steel Bridges
FHWA Disciplines:   Structures
Subject Areas:   Bridges and other structures
Maintenance and Preservation


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