Gregg Freeman speaks of the newly released Bridge Preservation Pocket Guides

By Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

The cover three newly released Pocket Guides

The TSP2 Bridge Preservation web site has released the PDF of three Pocket Guides (PG) that have been recently published by the FHWA Bridge Preservation Expert Task Group (BPETG). They are titled: “Bridge Cleaning”, “Removal and Replacement of Bridge Coatings”, and “Thin-Polymer Bridge Deck Overlay System”.  Please also see the link at the bottom of this post.

Not only can the PG be downloaded from the TSP2 web site, but they are also available as a smartphone app. To download the PG smartphone app one must go to iTunes or Google Play Store and search for “RBC Pocket Guide” for Bridge Coating, “BC Pocket Guide” for Bridge Cleaning, and “TPO Pocket Guide” for the Thin Polymer Overlay Guide.

PG are the result of a team work that has been coordinated and led by Gregg Freeman, Director of Business Development with KwikBond Polymers and member of the FHWA BPETG. Experts from Local, State and Federal Agencies, independent Consultants and Industry representatives all contributed to the definition and writing of the PG. I spoke with Gregg so as to have some insights about the development of the PG and his expectations with this project.

Where does the idea of creating PG come from?

After listening to industry presentations and round-table discussion at the TSP2 Regional Partnership meetings, it became clear to me that the understanding of “best practices”, as it relates to selection of activities and installation of materials, was vastly different between what the manufacturers and consultants expected and how these activities were actually performed.  I remember we discussed this issue at one of the first BPETG meetings that I was involved with.  Every member of the BPETG agreed that reference guides, especially related to the activities with a greater potential for failure, were needed.  The idea for the PG came from these discussions.

What are BPETG goals for the PG?

We wanted to create a tool that provides well-founded, reliable information about bridge preservation activities. We focused on those activities that are strategic for maintaining bridge elements in “good” or “fair” conditions thus achieving a long-term service life for bridges. We took in particular consideration the activities that can mitigate potential failure mechanisms.

Overall the PG are expected to:

  • provide proper installation/repair guidelines;
  • provide a check-list for equipment and tools needed;
  • identify limitations and restrictions including regional climates, traffic, and storage;
  • identify potential failure mechanisms and how to avoid them;
  • assess the condition of the deck for properly selecting the right system and/or product.

In creating the PG we had in mind the needs of different people involved in bridge preservation. For example, designers and spec writes can employ the PG as a reference for “best practice” and proper material/product recommendations. Inspectors can use the PG to assist with the completion of work at the job site. When using PG smartphone app, PDF check lists come to life as toggles that can be checked once a task in the field is completed. Information can then be emailed from the field to the office through the app as a record of work completed.

Which resources did you use for the development of the PG?

We began by selecting a lead SME (Editor Note: Subject Matter Expert) for each PG.  The SME reached out to State, Local, Federal Agencies, Consultants and Industry in order to create expert teams.  Each team started evaluating the existing resources, making sure that these resources were available to a larger public, and eliminating practices that were not supported by respected sources.

After each group of experts developed the initial PG version, the draft circulated around the country to reach State and Federal experts for review.  Needless to say each PG went through many changes throughout this process.

I led the team for the Thin-Polymer Bridge Deck Overlay Systems guide.  Our fairly large group of people included Jason DeRuyver from Michigan DOT and Mike Stenko from Transpo who took lead roles as well.

The Removal and Replacement of Bridge Coatings team was headed up by Ted Hopwood from the Kentucky Transportation Center, while the Bridge Cleaning team was led by Michael Brown with WSP.

Is the BPETG planning to release additional PG?

Yes, the Joint Systems guide is expected to be published soon. It is going through a final formatting process.  The team has been led by Debbie Steiger with Watson Bowman. Tony Brake from Caltrans has also taken a leading role in this team.

In the next 6 months or so, we plan to develop three additional PG, such as “Spot, Zone and Overcoat Painting”, “Deck Patching” and “Concrete Substructure Repairs”.

Other topics are for future consideration are:

  • Spot, Zone and Overcoat Painting
  • Deck Patching
  • Concrete Substructure Repairs
  • Concrete Superstructure Repairs
  • Steel Superstructure Repairs
  • Bearings: Clean, Reset and Grease
  • Removing Channel Debris and Scour Repairs

As the project leader for the PG, what challenges have you encountered so far?

Simply put, not all experts agree!  And not everyone can agree upon what available resources are the best to use.  Another point of discussion entailed information to be included in the checklists so as to have all PG to flow in a consistent format.

How have the PG been received so far?

It’s still early to say.  The smartphone app has just become available at the TSP2 WBPP meeting in Reno on May 14-16.  The app is very easy to download. When I presented the PG project at the meeting, some people in the audience downloaded the apps right there on the spot. The idea is for them to take the PG back to their home State and share information with maintenance crews.

Advancing the use of the PG is also one of the goals of the TSP2 “Local Agency Outreach” National Working Group that I co-chair with Travis Kinney from Oregon DOT. We are planning to promote the PG at TSP2 Regional Partnership meetings as well as at LTAP (Ed Note: Local Technical Assistance Program) and NACE (Ed Note: National Association of Corrosion Engineers) and other relevant gatherings and conferences.  We also plan on visiting Local Agencies around the country with the support of the FHWA, AASHTO Committee’s and State Agencies.

What feedback have you received about the PG so far?

There is a wide consensus that these guides are a useful tool for bridge preservation, but definitively I am looking forward to receiving more feedback on their content and use. This is essential information in order to continue to improve the quality of the PG that will be released at a later day and meet the expectations of bridge preservation practitioners.