New Concrete Formula to Extend Lifespan of DC Bridge

Aug. 25, 2023
The new concrete is expected to last more than 70 years.

A new, tougher concrete mixture is expected to lengthen the lifespan of a Washington D.C. bridge after being applied. 

Ultra-high-performance concrete reinforced with fine sand and steel fibers will be applied to the Southern Avenue Bridge over the Suitland Parkway in Southeast. It’s the first time ultra-high-performance concrete is being used in the District.

“It gives us a coating for our bridges that provides protection that is so much stronger than anything we’ve been using,” D.C. Department of Transportation Deputy Director Sharon Kershbaum told NBC4 Washington.

Typical concrete mixtures have an estimated 15-20 years of life, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The new concrete is expected to last more than 70 years. 

“So, our regular concrete, it would withstand 4,500 PSIs, so pounds per square inch of pressure,” Kershbaum told NBC4. “This new material would withstand 12,000 PSIs.”

The D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) received a $1 million grant from the federal government to try out the new concrete. If the agency is pleased with the results, the ultra-high-performance concrete could be used on some of D.C.’s 200 other bridges.

“What we’re doing is we’re finding ways to build bridges better,” said Benjamin Graybeal of the Federal Highway Administration to NBC4.

The material cuts down on the number of times roads have to be closed for repairs, which helps the environment by keeping traffic flowing and not sitting in delays.

More than 250 bridges in the country now have this kind of material. A major project in New Jersey right outside of New York City just used the material.

More federal grants that could provide more of the new concrete are expected to be announced soon.


Source: NBC4 Washington 

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