A Model to Predict the Impact of Specification Changes on the Chloride-Induced Service Life of Virginia Bridge Decks

Report No: 03-CR4

Published in 2002

About the report:

A model to determine the time to first repair and subsequent rehabilitation of concrete bridge decks exposed to chloride deicer salts that recognizes and incorporates the statistical nature of factors affecting the corrosion process is developed. The model expands on an existing deterministic model by using statistical computing techniques, including resampling techniques such as the parametric and simple bootstrap. Emphasis was placed on the diffusion portion of the diffusion-cracking model, but advances can be readily included for the time for corrosion deterioration after corrosion initiation. Data collected from ten bridge decks built in Virginia between 1981 and 1994 were used to model the surface chloride concentration, apparent diffusion coefficient, and clear cover depth. Several ranges of the chloride corrosion initiation concentration, as determined from the available literature, were investigated. The time to first repair and subsequent rehabilitation predicted by the stochastic model is shorter than the time to first repair and subsequent rehabilitation predicted by the deterministic model. The stochastic model is believed to more accurately reflect the true nature of bridge deck deterioration because it takes into account the fact that data for each of the parameters affecting chloride diffusion and corrosion initiation are not necessarily normally distributed. The model was validated by comparison of projected service lives of bridge decks built from 1981 to 1994 derived from the model to historical service life data for 129 bridge decks built in Virginia between 1968 and 1972. The time to rehabilitation predicted for the set of bridge decks built between 1981 and 1994 by the stochastic model was approximately 13 years longer than the normalized time to rehabilitation projected for the bridge decks built between 1968 and 1972 using historical data. The time to first repair and rehabilitation predicted by the probabilistic method more closely matches that of historical data than the time to first repair and rehabilitation predicted by the average value solution. The additional service life expected for the set of bridges built between 1981 and 1994 over those constructed from 1968 to 1972 can be attributed to the decrease in w/c ratio from 0.47 to 0.45 and slight increase in as-built cover depth from approximately 50 mm (2 in.) to 63.5 to 76 mm (2.5 to 3.0 in.).

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Trevor J. Kirkpatrick, Richard E. Weyers, Christine M. Anderson-Cook, Michael M. Sprinkel, P.E., Michael C. Brown, Ph.D., P.E.

Last updated: December 1, 2023

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