Summary Report on the Performance of Epoxy-Coated Reinforcing Steel in Virginia
Weyers, Richard E.
Sprinkel, Michael M.
Brown, Michael C.
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From 1992 to 2006, the Virginia Transportation Research Council and its contract researchers conducted a long-term systematic series of investigations to evaluate the corrosion protection effectiveness of epoxy-coated reinforcement (ECR) and to identify and recommend the best and most cost-effective corrosion protection system for Virginia bridge decks. This report summarizes this research and subsequent efforts to implement alternative reinforcement. The work was conducted, and is reported, in this general order: review of historical performance of ECR, ECR performance in solutions and concrete, and preliminary field investigations; investigation of field performance of bridge decks built with ECR; assessment of alternative corrosion protection methods; development of probabilistic service life models for bridge decks and laboratory assessment of ECR cores extracted from bridge decks to determine service life extension; efforts to implement alternative reinforcement. The series of studies demonstrated that the epoxy coating on ECR naturally degrades in the highly alkaline moist environment within concrete. The subsequent loss of bond, coupled with the inevitable flaws in the coating induced by construction, leads to an estimated service life benefit of ECR of as little as 3 to 5 years. Further, non-critical decks, beams, and substructure elements not exposed to marine environments, particularly on secondary and rural routes, can be cost-effectively constructed and maintained using low-permeability concrete and black reinforcing bar. However, because the Federal Highway Administration requires the use of corrosion-resistant reinforcement, and because ECR cannot provide adequate corrosion protection for structures designed for a 100-year+ service life as currently recommended by FHWA, the report recommends that the Virginia Department of Transportation amend its specifications regarding the use of ECR to require the use of corrosion-resistant metallic reinforcing bars such as MMFX2, stainless steel clad, and solid stainless steel.