ANNAPOLIS – New latex-modified concrete being used to replace cracked concrete from initial reconstruction on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is bonding properly and can continue to be used for the resurfacing work, tests show.
That good news may not be the best news for commuters, who will continue to be delayed as the work on the westbound side of the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge proceeds and lane closures continue.
O’Connell and Lawrence Inc. tested samples from the 500 feet of latex-modified concrete that was poured beginning Oct. 11 and tests proved that the concrete was bonding properly.
Bridge repairs were first made with microsilica concrete, which contains silica fibers, because it allowed contractors to work in colder weather, transportation officials have said. But, after cracks appeared in December 2003 the MdTA decided to use latex-modified concrete to replace the microsilica because it is easier to put down successfully.
The MdTA is now investigating why the concrete cracked and who is responsible for the failed work.
Unlike the latex-modified concrete, the microsilica was not tested throughout its application process because there was no reason to believe there would be a problem, said Katherine Lehan, Maryland Transportation Authority director of public safety information.
O’Connell & Lawrence conducted a “pull” test with the latex-modified concrete, in which a sample was taken from the pavement on the bridge and attempted to be pulled apart, said Lehan. The test showed that the concrete was performing to standards.
The new concrete will continue to be tested throughout the repair work, MdTA Chairman Robert L. Flanagan told Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and Speaker of the House Michael Busch in a letter Thursday.
Because the state is trying to get as much work on the bridge done as possible before the weather turns cold, lane closures will continue despite protests over the frequent traffic backups, transportation officials said. Latex-modified concrete can only be poured in dry conditions with temperatures over 45 degrees, Lehan has said.
As the work continues, Lane 2 on the westbound side will close nightly at 7 p.m., said Lehan, an announcement that comes one day after AAA Mid-Atlantic sent a letter to the MdTA asking it to reconsider the plan for constant lane closures.
“It’s discouraging for motorists because it limits the flexibility of the state to manage traffic during peak times,” said John White, AAA spokesman.
The MdTA is doing everything it can to help the situation, said Lehan.
“If there was something different we could do to make sure there aren’t backups, believe me, we would do it,” said Lehan.
In the meantime, the MdTA is asking motorists to be patient and understand that the inconvenience will not last forever, said Lehan.
However, White said he wants the state to continue evaluating the situation instead of asking motorists to “just grin and bear it.”
The state has promised to continue reviewing the situation, according to Flanagan’s letter to the General Assembly leaders.
The deadline to finish replacing the cracked concrete on the bridge’s Lane 3 is Nov. 24. The subcontractor, G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc., has said it will send an additional pouring crew, but declined to comment for this article. – 30 – CNS-10-14-04