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Bridge Maintenance Painting in the Land of 10,000 Lakes: MNDOT’s Novel Approach to Improving Bridge Maintenance Painting Operations


By Richard A. Burgess, PCS, KTA-Tator, Inc. and Sarah K. Sondag, P.E., Minnesota Department of Transportation

Presented at SSPC 2015; Session: Bridge Painting and Protection; Session chair: Mark Hudson, The Sherwin-Williams Company

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In May 2013 the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) with KTA-Tator, Inc. conducted a one-day seminar on Bridge Maintenance Painting Strategy & Project Design. One outcome of that seminar was the realization that the Agency needed a more uniform method to rate the condition of coatings statewide during the biennial bridge safety inspections and subsequently how to select and prioritize maintenance painting strategies. To address these needs, MnDOT assembled a Technical Advisory Panel and launched a multi-objective study in October 2013. The first objective was to conduct a Transportation Research Synthesis of representative Transportation Agencies’ policies, guidance, and manuals related to best practices for bridge maintenance painting operations performed by agency personnel. The second objective was to identify the best practices appropriate for MnDOT from the results of the synthesis in order to develop a more robust statewide bridge maintenance painting program. Ultimately this study resulted in an established decision process and a Bridge Maintenance Painting Manual. The principal areas of study included guidance for conducting coating condition assessments on existing structures and guidance for selecting maintenance painting strategies based on the condition and characteristics of the existing coating systems. Among key decision points addressed were: prioritizing structures for maintenance painting, determining the scope of maintenance painting projects, establishing the necessary degree(s) of surface preparation, selecting coating systems, and considering compatibility with existing systems when overcoating. The rating system and custom photographic guides (in development) are designed to coincide with Element #515: Steel Protective Coatings in the MnDOT customized software program used to manage data from the biennial bridge inspections, which ultimately feeds into AASHTOWare BrM.

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