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

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. 

“Epoxy overlays serve as a preventive-maintenance technique to waterproof the bridge deck and extend the life of the bridge," Corey Rogers, MDOT's engineer for Bridge Field Services, said. "MDOT has established criteria to help staff determine which bridges should receive an epoxy overlay. If the bridge deck is in poor/fair condition, it is not an ideal candidate; therefore, not all bridges have epoxy overlays.”

MDOT evaluates new and current epoxy products, which are developed by various manufacturers. Approved epoxies are included in future MDOT bridge contracts.

MDOT also has developed “mixed crews” for bridge work. These crews are a combination of MDOT, city public works department and county road-commission employees.

“These crews have typically been focused on bridge maintenance, but can do any work needed," Bill Wahl, MDOT North Region's associate engineer for operations said. "The crews are led by an experienced MDOT direct-forces crew leader, but staffed with personnel from a contract agency. The crews have the same responsibilities as though they were made up exclusively of MDOT staff and work within multiple counties, not just within the boundaries of the contract agency that is providing the staff. MDOT typically provides the equipment and materials needed to complete the work, and the crew leader is responsible for coordinating and scheduling crew activities. The contract agency staff members are responsible for completing the work assigned by the crew leader.”

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Michigan Department of Transportation

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