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Field Verification of Nondestructive Testing Technologies for Condition Assessment of Concrete Bridge Decks: A Case Study

To assess the condition and monitor the performance of reinforced concrete bridge decks, government agencies typically employ and rely mostly on basic non-destructive testing (NDT) methods such as visual inspection, chain drag, and hammer sounding. However, the accuracy and reliability of these methods rely on the inspector’s skills and experience and may produce variable results. In addition, surveys with traditional methods might only identify advanced stages of deterioration, such as concrete debonding or spalling. Due to the nature of such techniques, earlier stages or other forms of deterioration (i.e., rebar corrosion, cracking, and concrete degradation) cannot be determined. Rapid and accurate NDT methods have the potential to provide more in-depth condition assessment and performance monitoring of bridge decks while reducing dependency on the field operators’ judgment. The objective of this study was to identify and integrate several NDT technologies to detect and characterize deterioration of concrete bridge decks. This study presents the results of the integration and data fusion from multiple NDTs techniques for a comprehensive evaluation of a concrete bridge deck in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The bridge deck was investigated before a complete rehabilitation of the deck was carried out. Acoustic, electric, electromagnetic, and visual methods were used to detect and characterize deterioration and defects. NDT results were compared with visual inspection data (chain drag and hammer sounding) and exhibited excellent correlation. Correlation was further confirmed after removal of the deteriorated concrete with hydro-blasting exposing the actual areas requiring repair. It was concluded that integration of complementary NDT methods is effective and allows for a more accurate assessment of the condition of bridge decks. A better prediction of the deterioration progression and assessment of the rehabilitation needs is invaluable for bridge owners prior to the actual construction.

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