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Appraisal of Concrete Bridges: Some Local Examples


By: S. M. Idris and Z. Ismail

Table 1: Bridge owners in Malaysia

Concrete bridges are structures, which Routes Authority/Owner No. of Bridges Notes
enable a vehicle or a pedestrian to get
across a river, a road or some other Federal-Peninsular JKR Federal > 7000 Include culverts
obstacles. Serviceability of a bridge KTMB KTMB > 920 Exclude culverts
depends on its maintenance records . A Federal-Sarawak JKR Sarawak > 890 Include culverts
bridge needs to be inspected regularly Federal-Sabah JKR Sabah > 780 Include culverts
Toll Highway LLM/JKR/DBKL > 560 Exclude culverts
and frequently to ensure that it is always
DBKL DBKL > 225 Include culverts
in a safe condition for use. Serviceability
of a bridge could deteriorate and become
serious if proper maintenance, repair and the support of the growth of economic and photographs taken and recorded in
refurbishment steps are not taken activities of a nation. A systematic the inventory card; Routine Condition
immediately. By the same token a programme of inspection and Inspection to ensure that the bridge is
concrete bridge could maintain its maintenance of bridges therefore safe for use and is carried out by
serviceability for more than a hundred becomes critical. Inspection operations technical personnel visually against a
years if it is properly maintained. are important in order to determine the standard check-list at least once a year, or
Failure of a bridge structure could be type of damage and the extent of the after incidents such as flash floods, earth-
costly in terms of property and life. damage. The damage could be a result of quakes and the like; and Confirmation
Although catastrophic failure seldom poor design, over-loading, chemical Inspection to confirm routine reports
occurs, it is necessary to take steps to attacks, environmental wear and tear and received and to check that the routine
ensure integrity and safety at all times. others. Among the main aims of bridge inspection has been done consistently
Inspection surveys must be done at inspection are to examine the level of and according to standard procedures.
required intervals and corrective actions structural safety, identify the main cause Confirmation Inspection is usually done
taken immediately if it is found to be of structural deterioration, record on bridges that have shown critical and
experiencing deterioration. A Bridge damage details and source of the serious damage. It is also required to
Management System could be developed problem in a systematic manner, provide assist in determining the proper
and used as a strategy for efficient and information and to decide on matters maintenance steps to be taken or to
cost-effective bridge management [1]. related to maintenance, repair and justify a more detailed examination to be
replacements, provide feedback data to proposed. Detailed Inspection is done as
BRIDGES IN MALAYSIA designers and contractors for future a result of Routine and Confirmation
There are more than ten thousand improvements and to determine and Inspections. The objective is to evaluate
bridges in Malaysia. They are made up of provide a true picture of the effect of the safety level of the bridge as a whole,
concrete bridges, steel bridges, masonry loading on the bridge. conduct non-destructive testing, take
bridges and wooden bridges. In Malaysia samples from the structure, determine
there are four parties or corporations Classification of Inspection the extent of damage and provide
who are responsible for the design, The frequency of bridge inspection information necessary to determine the
operations and maintenance of bridges depends on the age of the particular approach towards repair and
namely: Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) (Public bridge, the type of construction, volume refurbishment [2].
Works Department), Keretapi Tanah of traffic and others. The type of
Melayu (KTMB) (Malayan Railways), inspection could either be visual STRUCTURAL DETERIORATION
Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur inspection, which could be undertaken Deterioration to concrete affects the
(DBKL) (Kuala Lumpur City Council) by a person with knowledge of road strength and durability of structures.
and Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia structure; principal inspection, which has Concrete performance changes with
(LLM) (Malaysian Highway Authority). to be carried out by a trained person; or time; the older the concrete structure the
Table 1 shows the breakdown of these special inspection, for which an expert is lesser the performance. The following are
bridges according to the owners. required to solve a complex problem. some of the more common mechanisms
Inspection could also be categorised as of concrete deterioration:-
INSPECTION STANDARDS Inventory Inspection which is the first
Inspection examination after a bridge is built and is (a) Carbonate or Chloride Reaction
Bridges form parts of a structure of a carried-out visually where dimensions Uninsulated steel reacts with water and
network of roads, which are essential in are measured, bridge sections obtained, oxygen electrochemically resulting in the

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corrosion of the steel. Corroded steel will corrosion of the reinforcement steel. The of the medium and other parameters
produce patches of corrosion products at more voluminous corrosion products related to density. It can be used to
the surface of the concrete. Spread of the create forces on the concrete resulting in measure homogeneity of concrete in a
corrosion will cause cracks in the popping out from the surface. Spalling structure, and it can also detect the
structure, which will eventually make it can also be caused by temperature and presence of cracks and honeycombs. The
fail. It is a slow process and acts as a pressure. Another type of damage is Half-Cell Potential is used to determine
warning when they first appear as reinforcement corrosion due to an the probability of the presence of
hairline cracks. electrochemical reaction as a result of corrosion with the use of copper-copper
chemical attacks such as alkali- sulphate half-cell on the concrete surface
(b) Chemical Attack aggregate, chlorides and others. and comparing the difference in potential
Reaction process alkali-aggregate is Reinforcement strength will be reduced between the half-cell and the
divided into two types: alkali reaction and the concrete will crack and spalling reinforcement. The results will indicate
with silica and alkali reaction with as well as staining will occur. potential areas where corrosion could
chlorides. The latter rarely happens in Reinforcement corrosion and moisture occur thus giving an early warning as to
Malaysia. Alkali-silica reaction is due to dissolving the concrete materials can the onset of serious corrosion. Endoscopy
the types of aggregate with high silica cause leaching and causing white is used to obtain images of concrete
content like granite, reacting with staining at the surface. Honeycombing structures, which are not normally visible;
trapped air, which contains alkali from or voids is a condition where air spaces and it is also used to gather information
the cement mixture. This reaction are present in concrete usually caused by on joints and bearings. Permeability Test
produces gel, which can cause cracking improper or unequal compaction of can be carried out by boring a small hole
of the concrete. In the presence of concrete. It can also be caused by a poor in the concrete, covered with liquid rubber
moisture, carbon dioxide and silica method or technique of pouring and and water is introduced into the concrete
oxides become acidic and dissolve and forming of the concrete. Mould and at a certain pressure. Carbon dioxide and
remove parts of the hydrated cement marine growth can also occur on calcium hydroxide in concrete react to
mixture producing a soft and weak mass. concrete columns located in water. The form carbonates, which at high
Sulphate ions also attack calcium growth is not only unsightly but can also concentrations will cause corrosion of the
hydroxide and alumina [1,4]. react with the concrete. reinforcement. Spraying phenolphthalein
on the concrete surface can indicate the
TYPES OF DAMAGE METHODS TO DETERMINE presence of carbonates. A change of colour
Poorly maintained concrete bridges will DAMAGE to violet indicates the presence of
have poor serviceability from various There are generally three methods of carbonates. Radiography is a method of
kinds of damage. The damage can be a determining the type and the extent of taking pictures using radiation
result of the materials used eg. cement, damage of concrete bridges. particularly gamma rays. It can give
water and aggregate; external forces like images of the reinforcement and also the
excess loading and base movements; and (a) In-situ Test presence of damage in the matrix.
joint and bearing failures. Maintenance In-situ tests are tests conducted at the
actions need to be done immediately to bridge site to gather important (b) Visual Examination
avoid deterioration and consequent information to determine bridge damage. Visual examination is an external
unsafe conditions. One of the more In-situ tests could be non-destructive method of examination. It is done in
common types of damage is due to (NDT) or destructive (DT). Easily order to ascertain and to evaluate the
cracks. Cracking is caused by excessive available NDT usually involves only the extent of damage due to major, medium
loading, foundation movements, poor surface layers, while DT could provide a or fine cracks; spalling and pop-outs;
design, or excessive tension forces, more detailed picture. The rebound rust stains, water and grease on
which are applied to a structure. hammer is used to obtain the value of concrete; leaching; corrosion of
Cracking is differentiated according to concrete strength at the surface where the reinforcement; voids, poor aggregate
the depth, width, form, location and impact is applied. This test needs to be and sand mixing, and honeycombs; and
source of the crack. Cracking can also be conducted on a level surface. Core drilling mould and marine growth.
defined as the complete or incomplete is used to obtain information on concrete (c) Laboratory Tests
separation of two or more sections as a strength, compaction, cracking and Laboratory tests are carried out for more
result of a split or breakage. External others. accurate results. The following tests can be
forces can be a result of temperature, The cover meter is used to determine carried out on the concrete bridge samples:
creep and shrinkage. Differential the location of the steel reinforcement and
movements and compaction can also the depth of cover available for protection Determination of Carbonate Depth
cause cracking. Spalling is the loss of of the reinforcement from chemical and To determine the presence of carbonates on
material or concrete at the surface due to other attacks. The Ultrasonic Pulse bridge structures, phenolphthalein
over-loading. Spalling can also cause Velocity Technique is used as a quick and indicator is sprayed. A colour change to
concrete cover to break causing simple method to determine the density violet indicates the presence of carbonates.

38 JURUTERA, July 2007


Compressive Strength Repair on the bridge was done by the Rust Staining
Compressive strength is determined by Bridge Division of JKR. Pore lining treatment Rust staining caused by corrosion of the
carrying out the test according to BS was done together with cover by reinforcement could be seen naked eye.
1881: Part 120: 1992 on the test specimen. silane/siloxine to reduce the absorption of This kind of damage was repaired by
water, chlorides and carbon dioxide. replacing and cleaning the corroded
Porosity reinforcement, and patching with
Porosity test is based on BS 1881: Part (b) Seberang Perai (Malayan Railways) modified shrinkage polymer.
122. This test is conducted to determine The Seberang-Perai bridge was built in
the rate of absorption of water by 1967 as a swing bridge to allow boats to Corrosion
capillary forces of the concrete. It is done pass under it. It is 220 metres long and it Corrosion is caused by chloride attack or
on unsaturated sample away from water is the pre-stressed concrete beam type. by electrolytic reactions. Laboratory tests
or moisture. Examination of the concrete bridge was were carried out to determine carbonate
undertaken in July 2003 by IKRAM C&S content in concrete. Method of repair was
Chloride and Sulphate Content Sdn. Bhd. as the bridge construction to replace or clean the corroded parts
Sample powder obtained from coring can advisor appointed by KTMB. The job followed by epoxy resin injection of
be tested for chloride and sulphate scope involved structural tests, sources of patching using modified shrinkage
content using the nitration method concrete deterioration, maintenance and polymer.
according to BS 1881: Part 6 or by using repair methods. This case example
the capillary tube indicator. Chloride focused on Pier 1 only. The following are Mould and Marine Growth
content of more than 0.4% can activate the types of damage experienced by the Mould and marine growth usually occur
corrosion, while sulphate content of more bridge on this pier: when the concrete surface is submerged
than 4% can cause concrete expansion in the river or seawater. In this case study
and disturbs concrete structure. Cracks the pier is in the river. Mould and marine
Major, medium as well as fine cracks growth was present. The growth was
Petrography were found on this pier. They could be cleaned using suitable cleaning agents.
The petrography tests are based on seen with the naked eye. The cracks were
ASTM C856-95 where the type and measured using a crack gauge. For major Oil and Grease
properties of the materials used such as (CE>1mm) and medium (0.5mm<CW<1mm) Staining as a result of oil and grease makes
the cement and the aggregate, cracks, the damage was repaired using the concrete surface look dirty. This staining
homogeneity of the mixture, micro the formwork grouting method. For fine originates from steel members resting on the
structure and durability potential of the cracks epoxy resin was injected into concrete. This stain was cleaned using proper
concrete are determined [1, 3, 4]. the cracks. detergents or removers.

CASE EXAMPLES Spalling (c) Jalan Mahameru (DBKL)

Three case examples on concrete bridges Spalling is classified into two types: one This is a bridge located on a highway,
owned and operated by different that exposes the reinforcement bar and built in the seventies. The damage on
organisations follow, giving examples of one that does not. Since the former type this bridge is the presence of gaps at
damage and corrective actions taken on usually is caused by corrosion, the the joints which could be caused by
each case. method of identifying the source of the traffic or non-homogeneous materials
damage is by the use of the half-cell mixture. The gaps spoil the looks of the
(a) Endau-Mersing (JKR) potential method, and core samples are bridge surface and also slow down
This bridge was built in 1974 with a length taken for carbonate and chloride depth traffic. The repair method was the use
of 397.32 metres. The type of construction tests. The method of repair for this class of of asphaltic plug joint, which involved
is pre-stressed concrete beam. The Endau- spalling was by replacing badly corroded a modified bonding polymer mixed
Mersing bridge spans across the Endau reinforcement; sandpapering minor with good grade aggregate. Old joints
River in the district of Rompin, Pahang. corroded parts and followed by patching and bolts were replaced with new ones.
This bridge was detected to experience using a modified shrinkage polymer to The joints with gaps were caulked with
corrosion and honeycombing on the replace the mortar. For spalling that does heat resistant polyurethane foam
columns. Laboratory tests were carried not expose the reinforcement bars, before a bonding agent was applied.
out on concrete, soil and water samples laboratory tests are carried out to Metal bridging plates were placed at
from the surrounding area to determine determine chloride depth and in-situ half the joints to cover the gaps. More
the level of chlorides. The test on the cell potential test was carried out to detect bonding agent materials were poured
concrete sample indicated that the any early onset of corrosion of the to fill up any gaps between plates. This
chloride levels were beyond the threshold reinforcement in the concrete. For was followed by compaction of the
limit for corrosion. It was categorised as spalling of this type the repair method road and finally bitumen was placed at
serious as the depth of the affected zone was by patching using modified the joints and allowed to dry
had gone beyond the concrete cover. shrinkage polymer. and harden.

40 JURUTERA, July 2007


OBSERVATIONS AND lives. However, concrete bridges in Some steps which can be done to
DISCUSSION Malaysia experience many kinds of reduce the overall costs of maintenance
From the three case examples seen, the deterioration and damage that cost a lot and operations are application of standard
common types of damage to concrete of money to repair and refurbish. designs, more frequent inspections to
bridges could be observed. The most detect onsets of damage at an early stage
persistent damage experienced by CONCLUSION AND and research and development for better
concrete bridges in Malaysia is chloride RECOMMENDATIONS materials and techniques in concrete
attack. Methods of repair for the various Serviceability of concrete bridges in bridge design, construction and
types of damage were also indicated. Malaysia could be considered moderate maintenance and operations.
Various types of examination were done since most of the deterioration and
to ascertain the cause of damage and to damage originate from natural causes ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
choose the most appropriate method of although there are also some, which are The authors wish to express their
maintenance and repair. Serviceability of due to human factors such as accidents gratitude to the engineers and staff of
concrete bridges in Malaysia could be and impacts by vehicles and boats, JKR, DBKL, KTMB and LLM, for their
classified as moderate since there have block drainage systems and sub- precious time and valuable assistance. ■
not been any major failures involving standard designs.

REFERENCES [2] JKR, Bridge Appraisal, [4] Kumpulan Ikram Sdn Bhd,
Rehabilitation and Maintenance, "Kajian dan Penilaian Ke Atas
[1] Radomski W. Bridge
Bridge Division, JKR Jambatan Keretapi No1, Km 1.00
Rehabilitation. Imperial College
Headquarters (1996) Perai, Seberang Perai, Pulau
Press, (2003)
Pinang". KTMB Report.
[3] JKR, Annual Bridge Inspection
Manual, Bridge Division, JKR
Headquarters (2003)

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