The objectives of this research were to 1) investigate bridge deck condition assessment methods used in the field and laboratory, methods of managing bridge decks, and methods for estimating remaining bridge deck service life using computer models through a comprehensive literature review on these subjects; 2) collect and analyze field data from representative concrete bridge decks in Utah; and 3) develop a decision tree for concrete bridge deck management in Utah. As a result of the literature review performed for objective 1, a synthesis of existing information about condition assessment, bridge deck preservation and rehabilitation, bridge deck reconstruction, and estimating remaining service life using computer models was compiled. For objective 2, 15 bridge decks were strategically selected for testing in this research. Five bridge decks had bare concrete surfaces, five bridge decks had asphalt overlays, and five bridge decks had polymer overlays. Bridge deck testing included site layout, cover depth measurement, chloride concentration testing, chain dragging, half-cell potential testing, Schmidt rebound hammer testing, impact-echo testing, and vertical electrical impedance testing. Two-sample t-tests were performed to investigate the effects of selected bridge deck features, including polymer overlay application, deck age at polymer overlay application, overlay age, asphalt overlay application with and without a membrane, stay-in-place metal forms (SIPMFs), SIPMF removal, internally cured concrete, and use of an automatic deck deicing system. For objective 3, condition assessment methods were described in terms of test type, factors evaluated, equipment cost, data collection speed, required expertise, and traffic control for each method. Unit costs, expected treatment service life estimates, and factors addressed for the preservation, rehabilitation, and reconstruction methods most commonly used by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) were also summarized. Bridge deck testing results were supplemented with information about current bridge deck management practices and treatment costs obtained from UDOT, as well as information about condition assessment and expected treatment service life, to develop a decision tree for concrete bridge deck management. Based on the results of field work and statistical analyses, placing an overlay within a year after construction is recommended. Removing SIPMFs after a deck age greater than 18 years is not likely to be effective at reversing the adverse effects of the SIPMFs on bridge deck condition and is not recommended. Bridge deck construction using internally cured concrete is not recommended for protecting against rebar corrosion. To the extent that excluding an automatic deck deicing system does not compromise public safety, automatic deck deicing systems are not recommended. To supplement the typical corrosion initiation threshold of 2.0 lb Cl-/yd3 of concrete for black bar, a corrosion initiation threshold of 8.0 lb Cl-/yd3 of concrete is recommended in this research for bridge decks with intact epoxy-coated rebar. For chloride concentrations less than 20 lb Cl-/yd3 of concrete as measured between reinforcing bars, an increase of up to 70 percent should be applied to estimate the corresponding chloride concentration of the concrete in direct contact with the rebar. The decision tree developed in this research includes 10 junctions and seven recommended treatments. The junctions require the user to address questions about surface type, degree of protection against water and chloride ion ingress, degree of deterioration, and years of additional service life needed; the answers lead to selection of treatment options ranging from repairing an overlay to full-depth bridge deck reconstruction. Revisions to the decision tree should be incorporated as additional methods, data, treatments, or other relevant information become available.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





bridge deck management, chloride concentration, concrete bridge deck, condition assessment, corrosion, decision tree, preservation, rehabilitation



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Engineering Commons