Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 56-15. Practices for Designing, Installing, Maintaining, Replacing, and Successively Using Complementary Bridge Deck Protection Systems

A complementary bridge deck protection system consists of deck treatments (AASHTO Element 510 Wearing Surface and Element 521 Concrete Protective Coating) constructed together as a system to extend the service life of a deck beyond what either treatment would achieve if used separately. Once a bridge is constructed and put into service, it begins to deteriorate. One of the most vulnerable bridge components to deterioration is the bridge deck. Decks are often exposed to contaminants and adverse weather conditions (e.g., deicing chemicals, road salts, etc.), water, freeze-thaw conditions, and saltwater environments. Water and contaminants can penetrate concrete and cause accelerated deterioration. State DOTs undertake various strategies in design, construction, and maintenance to minimize, reduce, and slow the deterioration of their bridges. Many bridge decks have overlays, such as asphalt only, asphalt with a liquid applied waterproof membrane, asphalt with a sheet applied waterproof membrane, rigid cementitious concrete, latex-modified concrete, premixed polymer concrete with primer, multi-layer polymer concrete with primer, etc. These overlays function as protective wearing surfaces that reduce the amount of water and contaminants permeating the underlying deck concrete, thereby increasing the service life of the deck. However, these overlays may obscure the condition and hide deterioration of the underlying deck. Some state DOTs use overlays in conjunction with deck treatments, such as concrete-penetrating sealers, crack sealers, or healer sealers, or a combination of sealer types. These complementary bridge deck protection systems further extend the service life of decks because the top layer of protection (the overlay) has to fail before the second layer of protection (the sealer) begins to work. Using a complementary bridge deck protection system may give state DOT bridge owners latitude about when to replace the overlay without experiencing significant deck deterioration. The cost of applying a concrete-penetrating sealer, crack sealer, or healer sealer is estimated to be 2% of the cost of replacing a deck, 4% of the cost of a partial-depth deck replacement, and 1% of the cost of new bridge construction. However, even at this relatively low cost, it is unknown how extensively complementary bridge deck protection measures are used. The objective of this synthesis is to document state DOT practices for the use and design of complementary bridge deck protection systems. The synthesis encompasses current practices for designing (e.g., selecting a deck treatment combination), installing, maintaining, replacing, and successively using complementary bridge deck protection systems to extend the service life of bridge decks.


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  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $55000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 56-15

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Gause, Jo

  • Start Date: 20240531
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01920386
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 56-15
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 31 2024 8:17PM