Michigan: New sealants, 'mixed crews' to boost highway-bridge longevity

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Improved sealing processes and increased staffing have led to a longer lifespan for state highway bridges in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) said recently.

The North Region of MDOT has developed a proactive bridge-deck epoxy sealing program designed to make bridges last longer. The new sealing technique also will improve vehicles’ traction.

“The main goal is to seal the bridge deck, to keep water out and extend the life of the bridges,” Bill Wahl, MDOT North Region associate engineer for operations, said. “It also provides a higher-friction surface, with a gritty texture that helps drivers maintain traction, even when the surface is wet.”

For the last 10 years, MDOT has used these new epoxy coatings for bridge decks, but the latest equipment will make this process better. New materials also will add to the bridges’ lifespan.

In addition, MDOT has started new bridge “mixed crews,” a combination of MDOT employees, city public works department employees and county road-commission employees. Having these teams work together will improve the preventive maintenance on these bridges, MDOT said.

“It definitely slows the deterioration of the deck, and it’s money well-spent,” Tony Olson, MDOT North Region’s bridge engineer, said. “Other MDOT regions have seen our program, and it’s becoming part of their regular maintenance.”

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Michigan Department of Transportation

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