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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Research > CORROSION PROTECTION - CONCRETE BRIDGES

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-98-088
Date: September 1998

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Corrosion of reinforcing steel has led to premature deterioration of many concrete bridges in the United States before their design life is attained. This has placed tremendous financial burden on many state and local transportation agencies in their attempts to halt ongoing reinforcing steel corrosion in the existing structures that are still functional (so that as much service life as possible can be salvaged from these) and to replace those structures that have already deteriorated to the point that it does not make any economic sense to keep on maintaining them. In addition, badly deteriorated bridges have considerable adverse effects on the nation's economic output and also place the safety of motorists at risk.

Recognizing the tremendous, adverse impacts that the problem of reinforcing steel corrosion poses, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established Corrosion Protection for Concrete Bridges as one of the high-priority areas in its Structures Research Program. The other high-priority areas (HPAs) in this research program include:

  • Geotechnical Engineering.
  • Hydraulic Engineering.
  • Corrosion Protection for Steel Bridges.
  • Seismic Protection.
  • Timber Bridges.
  • Nondestructive Evaluation.

Through the HPA of Corrosion Protection for Concrete Bridges, FHWA has been developing solutions to this problem through various research programs that include investigations into different effective and economical ways to protect reinforcing steel in existing concrete bridges from further rapid deterioration and to prevent corrosion from occurring in new construction. It has also established ongoing cooperative efforts with the Office of the Technology Applications and some state transportation agencies to expediently disseminate beneficial findings resulting from this research program to state and local transportation agencies for implementation.

This research report summarizes the progress made in the research programs of this HPA of corrosion control of reinforcing steel in reinforced and prestressed concrete. This report deals with both new construction and rehabilitation of existing salt-contaminated concrete bridges.

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