ANNAPOLIS – A more expensive type of concrete and a different contractor are being used for the repair work on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge after the concrete used in the extensive resurfacing last year cracked just a few months after it was applied.
G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., out of York, Pa., will be applying latex-modified concrete on the surface of the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, replacing the microsilica concrete that was originally used for the resurfacing. Latex-modified concrete employs a latex-water emulsion mixed with cement for strength, corrosion resistance and tolerance of freeze-thaw cycles.
Cracking was first discovered in December 2003, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. As a result, all the repairs done on the westbound span of the bridge are being redone.
The MdTA is conducting an investigation into why the concrete cracked and who is at fault for the failed work.
A preliminary report, done by O’Connell & Lawrence Inc. and presented to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Tuesday, found the handling of the microsilica did not meet industry standards. Microsilica concrete, which contains silica fibers, was used because it allowed contractors to work in colder weather, transportation officials have said.
The MdTA chose to use latex-modified concrete the second time around because it is easier to put down successfully and it has been used “extensively and successfully” in Maryland, said Katherine Lehan, MdTA director of public safety information. It must be poured in dry conditions when temperatures are over 45 degrees.
Latex-modified concrete is more expensive than microsilica, meaning the repairs are likely to exceed earlier estimates of $7 million, said Lehan.
Cianbro Corp., the project’s contractor, and the MdTA chose Wagman because of its experience and reputation for working with latex-modified concrete, Lehan said.
The original subcontractor, Pioneer Contracting Co. Inc., is still working to remove the old concrete and preparing the surface for the new layer, but it will not take part in the overlay of the latex-modified concrete.
But the use of a new contractor does not suggest who is to blame, Sen. Rona E. Kramer, D-Montgomery, said.
“I wouldn’t read anything into that,” Kramer said. “Probably, while we’re in a position where we are determining fault, it was decided that it was best just to start clean with someone else.”
Kramer said she does not think the state will be held responsible.
Using a different subcontractor may be a safety measure, said Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., D-Anne Arundel.
“(Fault) hasn’t been determined yet, but they may be taking a precaution in using someone they know has been successful in using this material.”
Already, 500 feet of the new concrete has been poured. It is being tested to make sure it is bonding to the surface the way it should, said Lehan. Testing should be done next week, when it will be decided if the work can continue.
Wagman is considered one of the best in the country in working with latex-modified concrete, Lehan said.
“We’re busy making sure the job gets done and gets done by people who know how to do it the best,” Lehan said.
Wagman declined to comment.
Pioneer submitted a price for laying the new concrete, but Wagman was chosen instead, said Mitesh Dave, Pioneer project manager.
Other than saying latex-modified concrete is Wagman’s “bread and butter,” Dave did not know why Pioneer was not chosen to do the repair work.
“We did everything as per the contract requirement and under the supervision of the owner.”
– 30 – CNS-10-8-04