1 Using Root Cause Analysis and Improving Asset Performance

Using Root Cause Analysis and Improving Asset Performance / New York State DOT

In 1994, New York State DOT (NYSDOT) determined that it needed to modernize its bridge designs to have longer service lives to help reduce future rehabilitation and replacement costs. Prior to this effort, the agency designed bridge decks for a 50-year service life with a planned rehabilitation at year 35. The goal for this effort was to double the bridge deck design life to 100 years with a planned rehabilitation at year 75. The NYSDOT Materials Bureau investigated the major causes of bridge deck deterioration and determined that the primary cause of failure was corrosion of the reinforcing steel due the intrusion of chlorides from winter maintenance activities. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the chlorides were penetrating the bridge decks both through cracks and the natural porosity of the concrete. As a result of this research, the agency began a research and development effort to design a new standard concrete mix design that had lower permeability, higher resistance to cracking, and was pumpable to support standard bridge deck construction practices.

The result of the Materials Bureau’s effort became NYSDOT’s “Class HP” concrete, which utilizes fly ash (a byproduct of electric power production) and micro silica (a byproduct of electric arc furnaces used in manufacturing) to replace some of the Portland cement in its standard bridge deck concrete. These new materials are finer in size than cement particles, resulting in well graded denser packing of particles in the concrete, which reduces permeability. Class HP also creates less heat while it cures (or hardens), which reduces the occurrence of thermal shrinkage cracks when the deck cools. In 1997, Class HP became NYSDOT’s standard concrete mix for bridge decks. By using a failure mode analysis to identify the primary causes for bridge deck deterioration, NYSDOT could use new materials technology to address those causes and significantly lengthen the design life of its bridge decks.

Read more in the chapter: 4.1.3 Developing Life Cycle Strategies