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Failing Deck Overlay Costs Caltrans

Thursday, July 13, 2017

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A busy Sacramento bridge will be subject to lane closures for the rest of the summer as part of a $25 million fix to a deck overlay installed just three years ago.

The Pioneer Memorial Bridge, which carries Highway 50 and I-80 over the Sacramento River, was rehabbed as part of a California Department of Transportation project in the city in 2014, but is back under construction as the multi-layer overlay system that was installed is replaced completely. The bridge, a set of twin girder spans, reportedly carries more than 100,000 vehicles daily.

2014 Work

In 2014, the bridge was part of the “Sac Decked Out” project, in which Caltrans installed new concrete overlays on the Highway 50 bridge and another that’s part of I-5. It was the first time the agency’s District 3, which serves Sacramento and the surrounding region in the northern part of the state, used the design-build model on a project. The job was carried out by lead contractor Myers & Sons Construction.

The overlay job, reportedly carried out by subcontractor American Civil Constructors, of Benicia, California, involved the installation of a polymer layer 3/8 inch thick, supplied by Kwik Bond. According to the Sacramento Bee, the general contractor did not have experience with this specific overlay material, but it was one of a number of options prescribed by Caltrans.

According to the Bee, the new deck began to fail soon after it was installed. The newspaper reports that in 2015, Myers & Sons commissioned an analysis that pointed to a number of possibilities: The existing surface may have been too worn for the polymer to adhere correctly, or it may have been too contaminated, to the point where the normal surface preparation done was not enough. Or the overlay may have simply been too thin for the traffic and environment.

Repair, Replacement

In 2015, contractors performed repairs on 10 percent of the deck, according to the Bee. But the overlay continued to fail, eventually driving Caltrans to issue a contract for the complete replacement of the deck, at a cost of $25 million, far greater than the original overlay. The surface laid down in 2014 will be removed before the new surface is placed.

Caltrans spokesperson Dennis Keaton told PaintSquare Daily News that the new surface will be a thicker, faster-setting product than was used in 2014.

While the original overlay was a “multi-layer of resin and broadcast aggregate” 3/8 inch thick, the new product, also manufactured by Kwik Bond, is ”a premixed polyester concrete, aggregate and resin mixture that will be placed using a paving machine for a 1-inch thick layer,” Keaton says.

“Polyester concrete produces a concrete that is durable and most importantly, achieves high strength in a matter of a few hours,” he adds.

Costs Incurred

Early repairs in 2015 were largely covered by Myers & Sons, according to reports, but the full replacement project came after the job’s warranty expired, so Caltrans is paying the bill, at least up front. A Caltrans official told the Bee earlier this year that the agency would likely file a claim with Kwik Bond over the failure.

Randy Slezak, general manager at Kwik Bond, told PaintSquare Daily News that the company will be meeting with Caltrans in August to discuss the potential cause of the issue and what the resolution will be. Slezak said that he is hopeful that the process of milling up the existing overlay for replacement will shed more light on the nature of the problem.

"With our current information it appears to be a combination of factors of which the most significant is surface contamination that wasn’t properly removed," Slezak said. "We will learn more over the next month."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Caltrans; concrete; Contractors

Comment from Fred Salome, (7/13/2017, 8:50 AM)

Of-course surface prep is vital on job such as this. But product selection is also critical. The first system sound like a synthetic tennis court product - not what I would put on a highway. My experience with polyester concrete is that it is brittle (ie it can crack) and its adhesion depends mainly on the choice of primer. Good luck, because having to redo a job is bad enough - having to redo it twice would be quite painful.

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