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15-03 — Successful Preservation Practices for Steel Bridge Coatings

Using coatings with steel bridges protects them from corrosion and help them attain their full service life. However, recoating existing steel bridges is a large and costly task for transportation agencies. Many agencies are faced with significant challenges in balancing available resources with major rehabilitation, reconstruction and complete replacement needs due largely to corrosion caused by failing coating systems.

Agencies are anxious to identify improved coating and recoating methods that will extend the service life and save significant costs by reducing the frequency of recoating, or the need to recoat at all, thereby delaying costly major rehabilitation and replacement activities caused by corrosion.

This scan identified effective strategies and practices used by transportation agencies in the areas of coating option decision making, surface preparation, specifications for coating systems, use of performance-based contracts, evaluation practices, inspector/contractor qualifications, and funding and support.

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Scan Results and Report

Implementation and Impact

Following the scan workshop in May 2016, the scan team worked at the regional and national level to advance scan findings. Highlights of these activities include:

Scan team presented findings at the TRB Committees on Structures Maintenance (AHD30), Steel Bridges (AFF20); AASHTO’s Committee on Bridges and Structures (T-14 Structural Steel Design), AASHTO-NSBA Collaboration; National Bridge Preservation Partnership (Southeast and Western Regions); National Bridge Preservation Conference; NACE International Central Area Conference; Western Bridge Engineers Conference; and the SSPC National Conference.

On May 7, 2020, the scan team conducted a national-level, TRB-sponsored webinar entitled, Steel Your Bridges – Preservation Practices for Steel Bridge Coatings, which was attended by 443 participants.

An article entitled, Experts Identify Best Practices in Steel Bridge Coating, which details scan best practices, was published in the Winter 2019 issue of the Paintsquare Press.

Scan team members will continue to work within their own states and nationally to advance the findings of the scan as opportunities present themselves.

Scan Members

  • Paul Vinik, Florida DOT, AASHTO Chair
  • Charles Brown, Maryland SHA
  • Mike Todsen, Iowa DOT
  • Ray Bottenberg, Oregon DOT
  • Tom Schwerdt, Texas DOT
  • Justin Ocel, FHWA
  • Sudhir Palle, Kentucky Transportation Center, Subject Matter Expert

Workshop Participants

  • Caltrans
  • Florida DOT
  • Maryland SHA
  • Michigan DOT
  • New York State DOT
  • Ohio DOT
  • Oregon DOT
  • Pennsylvania DOT
  • Texas DOT
  • Virginia DOT
  • Washington State DOT
  • Golden Gate Bridge District
  • NASA

Scan 15-03 team. BACK ROW: Sudhir Palle (SME), Mike Todsen (Iowa), Justin Ocel (FHWA) FRONT ROW: Tom Schwerdt (Texas), Charles Brown (Md.), Ray Bottenberg (Ore.), Paul Vinik (Fla.)