Critique of durability specifications for concrete bridges on national roads in South Africa.
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Damage to reinforced concrete bridges due to carbonation and chloride induced corrosion is widespread in South Africa and prone in environments where carbon dioxide is at high levels as well as in marine environments where chlorides are present. Performance specifications are therefore essential in order that structural concrete can be designed and constructed to the required standards ensuring that the long term durability can be maintained. This dissertation includes a review of SANRAL‘s current durability specifications. The specifications are critiqued in terms of the testing methodology followed as well as strength and environmental exposure considerations, and recommendations are made for improving the specifications. The literature review, outlines the background to both carbonation and chloride induced corrosion to reinforced concrete bridges , considering the fundamental causes of deterioration of concrete caused by carbonation and chloride ingress and repair costs during their service life. The South African Durability Index tests are presented and reviewed, in particular the laboratory testing apparatus and procedures. In addition, the index tests are compared with durability test methods currently being used internationally. The background and previous durability specifications used in South Africa on road bridges as well as details of research into specifications to ensure durable concrete with specific emphasis on curing of concrete is summarised. The indications are that performance based specifications for concrete on bridge structures internationally follow similar criteria to the specifications currently being adopted by SANRAL. Both performance and prescriptive specifications used usually depend on the risk that a constructor needs to carry. Importantly both cement extenders to ensure long term durability and penalties are applied in performance based durability. SANRAL‘s current durability specifications are reviewed and both the negatives and positives are presented for the various sections. Amendments to the Committee of Land Transport Officials (COLTO) standard specifications are recommended address shortcomings. The latest project specifications used on SANRAL contracts incorporating target requirements for cover and oxygen permeability are evaluated. These impose penalties if targets are not achieved, while limits are placed on chloride conductivity values for various blended binders. Data is also included for the sorptivity index values on the five projects which may analysed and target values can be set and implemented in future. Descriptions of the five projects with regard to durability specifications, their environmental exposure condition and concrete mix designs are presented. Five projects in KwaZulu-Natal, are used as case studies for durability tests and specifications. The only distinct difference in the specifications is that the three projects commencing in 2006 and early in 2007 had the target values for water sorptivity whereas for the project, sorptivity values are only reported on. Durability index testing results at each of the sites from the trial panels, additional test cubes (cast for coring and testing of durability indexes) as well as coring and testing from the bridge structures are presented. A major change is coring and testing of samples from trial panels and additional test cubes on the site instead of coring of the structure. The information is drawn together and relationships are determined between the various durability indexes as well as to strength. It is evident that the quality of concrete as constructed in the structure which is reflected by the durability index results is different to that produced in the test cubes and trial panels. It is deduced that while more care is being taken to produce quality concrete on the sites, certain aspects of the specifications need revision in order to remove confusion as well as to ensure that the concrete in the structure meets the target requirements. Finally it is noted that climate change is having an impact on design of bridge infrastructure, and while the surveys undertaken at Ethekwini and Msunduzi Municipalities shows that carbon dioxide levels being recorded are still average levels, worldwide there has been an increase in CO2 levels and further modifications to specifications in future may be required.