A Conversation with Michael Johnson, Caltrans

Michael Johnson, State Transportation Asset Management Engineer at Caltrans

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Michael Johnson is the State Transportation Asset Management Engineer at Caltrans, a responsibility that includes the management of both bridges and roads. Beyond his work at Caltrans, Michael is very active in the bridge preservation community and with TSP2. He is the Chair of the AHD37 Bridge Preservation Committee, which gathers more 80 people representing DOTs, Academia, FHWA, and TSP2. He is also a member of TRB AHD00 Section – Maintenance and Preservation, ABC40 Standing Committee on Transportation Asset Management and AHD35 Standing Committee on Bridge Management.

I had quite a long conversation with Michael about his job, career and commitment with bridge preservation.

Could you talk about your education and career path?

My education includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from California State University in Sacramento and a Master in Science with Structural Engineering concentration from the same University.  I am a licensed Professional Engineer in California.

My 28-year long career has been entirely with Caltrans.  I spent my first two years going through the Caltrans’ rotation program, which is a great program for new engineers in the bridge area. During the first two years of employment, a new engineer gains experience of bridge maintenance, bridge design and bridge construction, thus getting a broad understanding of how to design and construct a bridge, and also what kind of maintenance issues a bridge may have.

I started out as bridge inspector and worked for a number of years in this position. Since California was a pilot State for element level bridge inspection, I was very involved with this program early on. It ultimately led me down a path that included co-authoring the AASHTO Bridge Element Inspection Guide Manual that is used today nationwide.

I then progressed to Bridge Management. I ran bridge programs with focus on project scope, funding and decision-making in order to prioritize projects. I was also managing the underwater inspection program, the fracture critical inspection program, in-house paint programs and all of data management for bridge inspection. This job married my prior inspection background with my management expertise.

My current position was created to implement asset management across all of Caltrans managed assets.  In this role I have extended many of the concepts I learned in Bridge Management to a broader set of assets. The biggest physical asset in California is represented by pavement. Bridges are the second most heavily invested asset. We also have a fairly large program for culverts, and transportation management system elements. The big four assets are definitively pavements, bridges, culverts, and our transportation management system elements.

What are your current responsibilities?

I have two broad responsibilities as Caltrans State Asset Management Engineer. The first is to oversee the implementation of asset management in Caltrans. The second broad duty involves the management of Caltrans rehabilitation program, which is $4.4 billion annually. This program covers rehabilitation and replacement of physical infrastructure, safety preservation operations and more. It includes all the facilities that Caltrans owns. It is quite broad.

Could you talk about Caltrans Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP), its goals, challenges and achievements?

The TAMP (Ed Note, see links below) presents a fairly high level of strategic framework for how we are managing infrastructures in California. There are many components in this plan, but its core is what we call the three-prong asset management approach.

The first component includes programs to support highway and bridge crews, thus recognizing their importance for the preservation and maintenance of the State Highway System. Caltrans has crews that specialize in bridge maintenance and repairs. Caltrans is also one of the few DOTs that have in-house structural steel painting crews with the number of painters totaling more than 100.

The second aspect of the three-prong asset management approach is the preservation program.  The goal of this program is to slow down deterioration or delay future rehabilitation and replacement. We have a very robust maintenance program including many types of preservation treatments. This program’s expenditure is approximately $500 million per year for pavements, bridges and culverts.

The third and final element of the three-prong approach entails the major rehabilitation and replacement program, which is about $4.4 billion annually.  This program covers physical asset as well as operational aspects, safety, congestion and others.

A major overall achievement of the TAMP program has been the implementation of a Performance driven approach, which is helping us to be more consistent with our investments over time.  In the past, the emphasis was on the value of what was spent on a single asset, while now it is on how much the conditions or the performance of that asset have improved. In the past we also had a tendency to invest heavily in the hot item of the time, thus moving from one hot item to another instead of having a more consistent and disciplined approach.

Finally, through the asset management plan development, we enhanced transparency and accountability in our management. Since we are bringing good results, this approach has led us to get additional resources for the preservation and rehabilitation of our system.  So there has been a very positive outcome as a result of the implementation of TAMP. We now have people and funding to take proper care of our highway system.

How can bridge maintenance engineers at Caltrans take advantage of TAMP?

TAMP’s focus is on measured performance outcomes. By doing this, the program really highlights the benefits that maintenance programs bring to the Department. The recognition of these benefits has in turn led to more funding and more people being available for maintenance and preservation statewide. These are certainly of great assistance to maintenance engineers.

California recently enacted a significant gas tax increase; the first one in many years. Politically it was not an easy thing to do. Our work in asset management helped provide confidence that we had a good management structure in place and we can quantify needs very well. A solid asset management approach helped to justify a significant funding package for transportation.

As we are implementing the asset management plan, with focus on performance management, we are also developing a number of new software tools that are available to bridge engineers. As an example, our maintenance engineers can now go to the web site and see every asset in the highway system, color-coded based on current condition and planned projects. This tool allows engineers to understand the relationship between the assets, their condition and the project portfolios. In Caltrans we could easily be juggling 3,000 projects at a time between planning, design, and construction. Knowing what is going on and what is going to happen for each asset helps maintenance engineers make better decisions about what they want to do and where they want to work.

As the chair of TRB “AHD37 Standing Committee on Bridge Preservation”, could you illustrate activity and goals of this Committee?

The TRB Bridge Preservation Committee has a fairly broad and general scope advocating for research and activities that extend the life of existing bridges, communicate measures and benefits of preservation, and expand the development of tools and techniques that further bridge preservation.

Our effort in the Committee takes us into several areas such as non-destructive evaluation and monitoring, design and construction, strategies for improved service life, bridge preservation training, bridge preservation research, products and materials for bridge preservation. We are also looking at bridge preservation reports and research that are being published around the country, and the development of policies related to bridge preservation at national and state level.

Innovation for preservation is one of our general objectives. We want to know what kind of innovation ideas are starting to emerge. Another key objective entails communication. We are looking at how to communicate bridge preservation benefits and to market the value of preservation.

We work seamlessly with various aspects of AASHTO, such as the Maintenance Committee and the Committee on Bridge and Structures. We also work with the TSP2 Regional Partnerships and FHWA. The chairs of the AASHTO Committees and the lead of FHWA and TSP2 Bridge Preservation are all members of the TRB Bridge Preservation Committee AHD37. We have basically brought together the leadership of AASTHO, FHWA and TSP2 in the TRB Committee. This makes it easy for the members of the Committee to keep track what is going on in the area of bridge preservation between the various groups and organizations.

You also have a strong representation from Academia and industry in the TRB Bridge Preservation Committee AHD37. Could you comment about it?

As with all TRB Committees, the AHD37 includes industry members and academic members, in addition to DOTs representatives.  At the core, TRB is a research focused organization and we rely on our academic partners for research.

The industry is also a critical partner, in particular manufacturers who are producing products and materials for bridge preservation and consultants who provide supporting services. The more we engage with the industry representatives, the more they understand the kind of issues DOTs are having and, in turn, can work on developing products, materials and services that are solutions to the problems that have been identified. Our balanced mix of members on the AHD37 helps make the Committee more successful.

What are the focus areas of the AHD37 Committee?

A topic of particular interest to the Committee is trying to answer the question of when and why bridges are taken out of service. We are researching questions like: how old should a bridge be when it is taken out of service? When should a bridge be replaced with a new bridge? We initiated a number of different research projects related to this topic.

We are interested in the condition and performance of a bridge during the last year of service but also in what functional features the replacement bridge has that the prior bridge did not have. More than one research report shows that bridges are not always being replaced because of condition.  A lot of times bridges are replaced because they are no longer functionally adequate or they have other sorts of vulnerabilities.  This viewpoint gives us a very broad definition of bridge preservation.

Another area of interest to the Committee is understanding the decision variables that should be considered before deciding to replace a bridge. There have been a number of instances where there was the perception that the service life of a particular bridge was near the end. However, when the bridge did not actually get replaced for various reasons, it ended up remaining in service and functional adequate for ten or fifteen more years. This makes us wonder if there might be a better criterion for deciding when it is time to replace a bridge. In other words, preservation may be simply a matter of making better decisions of when a bridge is at end of its life.

You are active in a number of TRB Committees. What is the best way for a bridge preservation engineer to keep up with the work of TRB?

There is a lot going on in bridge preservation between AASTHO, FHWA, TRB, TSP2 Regional Partnerships and State DOTs. It is therefore really difficult to stay on top what is happening.

In order to spread bridge preservation information to all interested people, who many times do not have the opportunity to participate in meetings of the different organizations, we have created the bridge preservation newsletter that is available from the TSP2 Bridge Preservation web site.  The newsletter has sections that highlight new innovative products and practices, provides a listing of recently completed and on-going research projects, and has a links to research results.

The first publication highlights an innovative product for corrosion protection of bridge deck reinforcement. It also highlights some work that is going on between FHWA Bridge Preservation Expert Task Group and TSP2 to produce bridge preservation pocket guides. The newsletter has a fairly comprehensive list of research projects completed in the last couple of years or that are ongoing.

In a limited number of pages, one can get a quick insight of some of the hottest things that are going on in preservation.  The publication is scheduled to be released with some frequency and offers opportunity for publication of topics from different bridge preservation avenues.

Could you comment about TSP2 and your involvement with this organization?

TSP2 is unique in many respects. It brings together peers from neighboring Agencies, thus helping create personal relationships between them. It gathers industry expertise and academic perspective all focused on bridge preservation. Meetings are hands-on and very practical. At TSP2 people do not generally talk about research programs that are going to happen, but the talk is about everyday preservation problems and sharing different ideas on how to address these problems.

I became active with TSP2 because of its peer connection. It can really benefit you to know the people who do your same job in the nearby States. Once you develop the relationship, you can call these people, exchange ideas and get the benefit of their experience.

I have an example of this. The State of Utah’s TSP2 member was concerned about cutting access openings to the bottom of box girder bridges. He was worried that it would cause damage to the bridges. When he called me to ask about my experience with this practice, I had to chuckle. We cut hundreds, if not thousands, of access holes into bridges in California following major earthquakes and we have never had a problem. I was able to provide reassurance to the engineer from Utah DOT about the reliability of the practice. I was also able to share Caltrans standard plan showing how and where to cut access openings in box girder bridges. I am sure that in 20 minutes the Utah representative felt a lot better about what he was going to do and how to plan for its execution. This is an example of the power of TSP2.

In your opinion, what are the major challenges that DOTs and local owners face in the implementation of successful bridge preservation strategies?

I can boil it down to two primary challenges. First and foremost preservation is not really as celebrated as new construction is. Preservation is not particularly attractive in this regard. I think that our culture needs to change. We need to celebrate preservation the same way we would host a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new facility.

The second challenge is closely related to the previous one. In order to make preservation more attractive and investments more appealing broadly, we have to do a better job of communicating the benefits of preservation in a very clear and understandable way.

Could you point out one or more projects that you fondly remember?

I had the benefit of being involved in two projects that kind of stand out for me.

One was an emergency repair of a collapsed bridge at the MacArthur Maze that approaches the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge.  A gas truck had caught fire at the interchange causing the collapse of a second level bridge that landed on the bridge underneath and heavily damaged it. This is a very busy highway in California. My team worked on restoring the bridge that was damaged by the upper bridge collapse by implementing a massive heat straightening effort.  Within a relatively short time we actually brought the bridge back from the grave, as badly as it was damaged.

I also worked on another project that was notable, but for a different reason. We had installed an acoustic monitoring system for steel cracking on the old San Francisco Bay Bridge before it was demolished. This project was very innovative and ground breaking. It proved the value of structural health monitoring on large scale bridges. To this day the San Francisco Bay Bridge remains one of the few bridges in the world that had such a system installed. This project demonstrated how we can effectively use structural health monitoring to safely extend the life of bridges.


TAMP – http://www.dot.ca.gov/assetmgmt/tam_plan.html


A Manufacturer’s Perspective: Kwik Bond Polymers

Gregg Freeman, Business Development Manager with Kwik Bond

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Kwik Bond Polymers based in Benicia, California, is regarded as the largest supplier of polyester polymer concrete in the USA specializing in bridge overlays and concrete repairs. The company also offers thin epoxy overlays, High Molecular Weight Methacrylate (HMWM) concrete healer-sealers and High-Friction Surface Treatments (HFST), an innovative road safety countermeasure system.

To learn about Kwik Bond Polymers and its go-to-market strategy for bridge preservation, I spoke with Kwik Bond’s Gregg Freeman, Business Development Manager, and Merritt Hanson, VP of Sales.

What is your responsibility with Kwik Bond? When did you join the company?

Merritt Hanson, VP of Sales with Kwik Bond

Gregg: I joined Kwik Bond 6 years ago when I was approached by one of the founders of Kwik Bond after a presentation at a TSP2 Bridge Preservation Partnership meeting.

I work with the R&D Department for the development of new products, taking advantage of my 27 years of experience in the industry. I also work with DOTs in order to create specifications so as to be certain that contractors have proper information for installing our products correctly.

Merritt: I have been with the company for 12 years. My first experience with the polyester concrete technology took place in 2002 when I was with an overlay contractor. I met Kwik Bond founders at that time.  In 2006 they offered me a position as sales person in NY. I am now the VP for Sales focusing on the entire US market.

Can you speak of the evolution of Kwik Bond from a local company based in California to a  national competitor?

Gregg: The two founders of the company started working with Caltrans in the early 1980s.  At that time Caltrans was after “a more permanent solution” for concrete repair. As they decided to develop a new technology in partnership with the industry, they brought in industry experts who knew about polyester resins, methacrylates, and concrete construction. These experts became the founders of Kwik Bond Polymers. Once Caltrans started advertising the new technology for bid, they established Kwik Bond Polymers.  For a number of years Kwik Bond was both manufacturing polyester concrete and installing it. (Ed. Note: Nowadays Kwik Bond is exclusively a manufacturer. Kwik Bond works with local contractors for installations.)  The new polyester concrete technology has been managed well for many years in the State of California and it was well understood by Kwik Bond when the company decided to launch it nationally.

Merritt: Essential to the success of Kwik Bond Polymers is the fact that the polyester technology has proven that it works. The material bonds to the substrate, protects it over time and does not wear. Polyester technology simply does what it is supposed to do.

Kwik Bond has always taken care to verify that their materials are used in the proper manner to insure a correct application. This is also an important element of the success of Kwik Bond Polymers.

Can Kwik Bond be regarded as a successful example of collaboration between Agencies and industry?

Gregg: Yes, it has been a unique example of collaboration between an Agency and industry.  Caltrans did extensive research in the Lab and in the field by testing many different systems in search of technologies that could provide a solution to unique challenges.  At that time Caltrans had a large budget and highly skilled experts with a lot of freedom to push innovation to the limits, which also allowed them to bring in experts from industry.

Merritt: Once the polyester concrete technology was fully developed, Caltrans wrote specifications that were prescriptive and not so much performance-based.  Even though these specifications were functional to Caltrans’ needs, they could not tell everything about the material.  They informed about the individual components but the specifications did not underscore the interaction between these components, which is equally important. We were able to make the best use of Caltrans specifications because of our unique expertise with this technology.

Can you speak of polyester concrete? What are its primary applications and key properties?

Merritt: Polyester concrete can be used for a range of applications for bridge construction and preservation, first and foremost deck overlays, joint headers, concrete repair and regrading, such as building a wedge in approach slabs or overcoming extreme wheel path wear. For concrete repair applications you can pour up to 12 in. of polyester concrete in a single installation. I have actually poured up to 18 in.

Gregg: Polyester concrete has an exceptional resistance to wear. It is also completely impermeable thus preventing chlorides and contaminants from reaching the substrate. In comparison, high strength concrete has very low permeability but it is subject to cracking. It is well known that chlorides can enter even into very small cracks. This does not happen with polyester concrete. In the rare event a crack forms during a polyester concrete application, the crack does not grow. Then it can be easily and permanently sealed with a (HMWM) resin.

Merritt: I would say that the magic of Kwik Bond polyester concrete consists in the balance between its key properties, such as compressive strength, tensile strength and tensile elongation. You can actually boil it down to the balance between tensile strength and modulus of elasticity. At Kwik Bond we do not brag about exceptional properties of polyester concrete. Some competitors promote 20,000 psi compressive strength of their technology, but you actually do not want it. You want a balancing act: enough strength to keep the material from wearing and enough flexibility to handle the normal motions of a bridge deck. Kwik Bond polyester concrete provides this kind of balance. We therefore like to underline the correct balance of properties of polyester concrete, not its “high” something.  Let me underscore one more time that a carefully designed balance between key properties is at the core of the successful installations of Kwik Bond polyester concrete.

What about fast setting that allows quick traffic reopening?

Gregg: Fast setting is a very important Kwik Bond products’ feature, especially for polyester-based HFST applications. This technology allows return to traffic in 2 hours even in cooling conditions.

A key element for understanding why Polyester Polymer Concrete (PPC) provides such long-lasting installations is its thermal compatibility with the concrete substrate. Because Kwik Bond polyester concrete has such a large volume of aggregate relative to its resin, it has a good thermal compatibility compared, for example, to thin overlays, which expand and contract at a high rate. Our system is much closer to concrete than alternative solutions. It therefore reduces, or eliminates, thermal stress at the bond line.

Merritt: Certainly fast setting gets the attention, but the reason people continue to use our polyester-based concrete is because it works. It is a robust, forgiving material that works in a wide variety of cases, not just in niche conditions.

What are the challenges that you are facing in promoting this technology?

Gregg: People who are new to the technology tend to oversimplify it. Based on our success, they think that it is easier than it actually is.  They make mistakes that are detrimental to the good name of the polyester-based concrete technology.

Merritt: To me the biggest challenge is information. Despite the fact that polyester concrete technology has been used consistently  since 1983, it  is still new to a lot of people, who do not know what it can do for them and what it has done elsewhere successfully.

Materials that use resin as a binder are widely accepted nowadays, yet they are not gray or black, I mean they are not Portland cement-based or asphalt. These materials belong in a category of their own that it is still looked with diffidence by some people.  So for us the first challenge is to get the message across that our polyester-based technology does work. And even though there is no water/cement ratio to specify, the material can still provide successful installations.

What about the challenge of promoting this new technology to DOT Agencies?

Merritt: When I joined the company, Kwik Bond was working in just a few States in the West. Since I live in New York, I concentrated my efforts in the North East. I cannot tell you how unimpressed people were of the company’s success in California. The fact that the polyester technology had been used to overlay some of the biggest bridges in California was not really a factor. Breaking the barrier was very difficult. How did I go through it? I contacted DOT maintenance teams and did a lot of repair patches for free to show how the product works in the field.  I also met designers who trusted the technology and agreed to specify jobs. Engineers almost universally want to “kick the tires”. They want to see that the product works, even if it is on a small scale application. And I realized it early on.

Gregg: We took a small step approach. We found champions who were interested in bringing the technology forward.  With their help we put the product down and we started building a success story in almost each State. This strategy really works unless you find a State where a similar technology had failed in the past, or, even worse, had caused a safety hazard. It is almost impossible to enter such a State. Nobody wants to take the risk of adopting a technology that has a bad reputation, no matter how much the new technology is different from the one that had caused problems in the past and proved to be successful.

It seems that overcoming bad reputation is an important issue in dealing with DOTs.  Is this a challenge for Kwik Bond?

Merritt: This is really a big challenge for Kwik Bond. Since people think that polyester concrete technology is easy, there are occasionally contractors or suppliers that try to piece the system together. Unfortunately, there is more to it than what they see initially.  It is not so easy to provide long-term preservation and an outcome that has been proven over time.  Just because someone claims to meet the specs, it does not mean that the material will be able to perform over time.  Symbolic goods are not equivalent to the real thing.

Polyester concrete is an engineered composite system where the single components need to be compatible in order to work together properly. The system is certainly more than purchasing a series of ingredients and mixing them in the job site. It does not work in that way.

When a polyester concrete mix is put together by people who do not have  adequate expertise and knowledge, applications can go poorly. This can give a bad name to the technology thus disrupting what we have built. For this reason, we have had to overcome reputation problems in a number of States. Typically somebody else comes in, tries to do what we do, and does it so poorly that all brands of polyester concrete, Kwik Bond included, can be banned for years.

Our way to go to market is to control applications and avoiding overselling. We only sell when we are sure that the product is the right solution. For this reason we are reluctant to sell through distribution and we prefer selling directly to contractors

Gregg: Polyester concrete is essentially a mix of two blends of aggregate and the resin. Kwik Bond Polymers specifications say that there should be a preliminary research showing that the components are compatible when mixed together. Very few people understand the meaning of this requirement. Formulations are thrown on the market without properly testing the compatibility of the ingredients.  This does not happen with Kwik Bond Polymers since we have an unmatched level of knowledge and experience with polyester concrete technology.



Kwik Bond Polymers website


FHWA LTBP Summary—Current Information on the Use of Overlays and Sealers



SEBPP 2017 Presentation: Polyester Polymer Concrete Overlays in North Carolina

The New Concrete Surface Repair Technician (CSRT) Certification by ICRI


Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

The International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) recently launched a new program, the “Concrete Surface Repair Technician” (CSRT) Certification.

The International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI), founded in 1988, focuses on being the leading resource for education and information to improve the quality of repair, restoration, and protection of concrete structures thus extending their useful life. Local chapters provide regional networking opportunities. Worldwide membership includes contractors, manufacturers, engineers, distributors, owners, and other interested professionals.

I think that the CSRT certification program can be of high interest to bridge preservation practitioners. For this reason I had asked a few questions about the program to Ken Lozen, ICRI’s Technical Director.

  • What compelled ICRI to set up the new training program?  There was demand in the concrete repair industry to educate and train individuals as technicians and inspectors on repair projects. The demand is driven by ACI 562-16 Repair Code language defining a qualified repair inspector as one who has been certified as an ICRI Concrete Surface Repair Technician (CSRT) – Grade 1, the credentials obtained from the ICRI CSRT Tier 2 full certification program.
  • Could you summarize the key elements of the program? For example, how is the evaluation performed and who performs it?  The web-based program includes five (5) online modules of education and training necessary for performing pre- and post-placement inspections and testing of concrete surface repairs. The training includes an introduction to types of concrete deterioration, presents a summary of repair materials and methods, and provides understanding of the requirements for a quality concrete repair. Training was developed from ICRI technical guidelines and other pertinent industry documents and standards. Certification requires passing five online training modules, an online knowledge exam, and a live or video recorded performance exam on four (4) applicable ASTM test methods.
  • How can a bridge preservation practitioner benefit from participating in this program?  A bridge preservation practitioner will learn the requirements necessary to perform pre- and post-placement inspections and testing of concrete surface repairs involving varying types of concrete deterioration, primarily embedded metal corrosion. Bridge preservation involves all types of concrete distress and construction, from foundations to piers, to its superstructure components. Exposed to harsh environments, bridges often experience premature and accelerated concrete deterioration that can reduce concrete durability and compromise structural integrity. Knowing the requirements for a quality repair is essential to preserving the bridge.
  • When was the program released?   The web-based certification program was launched in June 2016 with live performance exams now available at on-site locations. Register today at www.icri.org to receive introductory pricing. Volume discounts also available at reduced rates.
  • How has the program been received so far?  Participants have commented on the program’s comprehensive educational and training content and relevance for inspection and testing on concrete repair projects. The training is beneficial in the everyday lives of engineers/architects and contractors/manufacturers, from project managers/superintendents to technicians/laborers wanting to perform quality concrete repairs.


For more information Ken can be contacted directly at email hidden; JavaScript is required or (248) 358-6996


ICRI CSRT enrollment page: http://www.icri.org/page/cert_techprogram#

ICRI Local Chapters: http://www.icri.org/?page=chapters

ICRI Concrete Repair Bulletin: http://www.icri.org/?page=CRB_current

Spotlight – “Bridge Notes” Initiative by Oregon DOT

Lorella Angelini
Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

A new communication initiative comes from Oregon DOT (ODOT). It is the “Bridge Notes” released on the ODOT web site under the Spotlight banner. It started on January 2016.


ODOT Bridge Notes are stand-alone articles. They are part of a series addressing technical issues of great interest for bridge preservation. The first two articles focus on steel painting and bridge deck rehabilitation. Upcoming articles will provide information about cathodic protection and strengthening low capacity bridges.

While technical publications about bridge preservation are widely available, Bridge Notes stand out for their colloquial tone, relevant but accessible information. Their aim is to get the attention of the Oregon general public, as well as the Legislators and Transportation Commission, with the ultimate goal to help increase funding for preservation actions for State bridges.

Congratulations to ODOT and Bridge Notes editor Liz Hunt, for the initiative and the bold resolution to take a step outside the boundaries of our bridge preservation community.

Modern Trends for Concrete Repair – My Top Three

International Concrete Repair Institute Convention

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

The upcoming International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Convention in Fort Worth, TX, from October 14 to 16, is titled “Modern Trends in the Repair Industry”. The Convention will gather consulting engineers, contractors, owners and manufacturers, who are experts in the field of concrete repair and restoration. Here is the link to the program of the Convention.


According to ICRI, the way we do business in the repair industry is changing from strategies to materials and from techniques to technology. Based on my education as a civil engineer specialized in construction materials, my top three trends for the repair industry are as follows.

  1. Use of materials that fully integrate with the structure to be restored, providing strength and durability but also the capacity to respond to stress and deformation consistently with the original structure.
  2. Give preference to materials that can be applied easily and successfully, even by unspecialized crews.
  3. Choice of materials that are safe for applicators, users and the environment.

Do you agree with my opinion?


A Conversation with Peter DeNicola about Life-Cycle Analysis

Peter DeNicola

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Peter DeNicola, Evonik Corporation

Peter DeNicola, Technical Marketing Manager with Evonik Corporation, is an expert with bridge preservation and maintenance, also having a deep expertise with concrete deck sealers.

Along with his many commitments, he chairs the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) Committee 140 – “Life-Cycle Performance and Cost”.  I spoke with Peter about the activity of the Committee he chairs.

Could you tell us about yourself?

I graduated from Rutgers State University in New Jersey with a chemistry degree.  Shortly after graduation I started working for Evonik, which was Degussa at the time, based in New Jersey, where I live.

At first, I was part of the Research and Development team focusing on silane synthesis. I then moved to the application technology department where I put to use my R&D knowledge of silanes for the development of concrete protection applications. I have been in this position for 13 years.

I joined ICRI in 2005. I currently chair the ICRI Committee 140 – “Life-Cycle Performance and Cost”.

Can you introduce us to Committee 140?

We have a diverse group of professionals in the Committee. The group includes consulting engineers, manufacturers and contractors, who use products for repair and maintenance and also deal with the owners.  This diversity allows different perspectives and views of products and technologies, which are all taken into consideration in the Committee.

 What compelled you to take a leadership role with the Committee?

I had been working on several projects with Paul Tourney, who initiated the activity of this Committee in 2008. Like Paul, I strongly believe in the importance and the value of developing an analysis of products and technologies for concrete repair based on the criteria of cost and service life extension.

I wanted to help owners choose products and technologies based on an economic perspective including both cost of the application and its benefits over the years.

What is the mission of Committee 140?

To provide industry guidance for decisions that are based on service life extension of concrete structures as well the economic impact of the different repair strategies.

What are the Committee’s goals?

To develop a guideline document that will take a “cradle to grave” approach employing different maintenance and concrete repair strategies for extending service life of concrete structures. The document should allow an owner to formulate preventative maintenance plans, mapping out costs and actions to be taken in the short and long term with the objective of preventing major repairs.

Generally speaking, owners do not make a repair just because they have to fix something. They also take into consideration the long-term service life of their structures. For this reason they value tools that allow them to save money over time avoiding extensive repairs.

The guideline document that the Committee is preparing will include a net present value calculation tool that should allow owners to take the best repair decision for their budget. For example, by using the highest quality materials and best possible repair technologies an owner can spend additional $ 100 at the time of the repair to save $500 in 5 years. The guidelines will provide different net present value calculations related to different repair strategies.

You have mentioned repair strategies a number of times during this conversation. What about maintenance strategies?

Ultimately the guidelines will be focused on repair with a smaller section dedicated to maintenance.  It is true though that the guidelines reference existing codes, such as ACI (American Concrete institute), which include both inspection, repair and maintenance information.

When will the guidelines be competed?

We are planning to have a rough draft completed in one year.

There have been talks to combine the Life-Cycle Performance and Cost Committee with the ICRI Sustainability Committee to work on a joint document since the two Committees are working on a similar pathway.

What is your source of data for the guidelines?

For net present value calculation we basically rely on industry to provide service life data that are expected out of a certain product, technology and repair strategy.  For instance, repairs of delaminated and spalled areas of steel reinforced concrete usually have longer life expectancy when the repair material contains a corrosion inhibiting admixture.

The Committee also implements independent testing programs to verify statements from manufacturers. As an example, there are test data that allow predicting how long it will take for chloride to penetrate different types of concrete and start corroding the reinforcing steel.

Do you think the work of your Committee and the guidelines could be of interest to bridge preservation practitioners?

Yes, absolutely.  The ICRI guidelines will include a section dedicated to bridge decks and bridge substructures. Guidelines will cover several bridge preservation practices, such as deck washing.

I am looking forward to strengthening  the communication with DOTs and getting their feedback about the work of Committee 140.

A conversation about NTPEP with Paul Vinik, State Structural Material Systems Engineer at Florida Department of Transportation

Paul Vinik
Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Paul Vinik, Florida DOT

In my fifth and final conversation about NTPEP,  I am speaking with Paul Vinik, State Structural Material Systems Engineer at the Florida DOT, a state that makes selective use of the NTPEP test protocol for the approval of bridge preservation products.

Could you speak of your role with Florida DOT? 

  • As the state’s Structural Material Systems Engineer, I lead the section dedicated to structures at the State Material Office for the Florida Department of Transportation. My responsibilities include managing our field approval inspectors as well as our corrosion, chemical, and physical labs. I also attend the NTPEP national meetings on behalf of the State Material Office.

From what I know, Florida does not require NTPEP testing data for the categories that entail bridge preservation, which are Polymer Concrete Overlays, Rapid Set Concrete Patch Materials, Structural Steel Coatings/Concrete Coating Systems and Hot Mix Asphalt Crack Sealant.  Could you comment about it?

  • In general, across the board, Florida DOT utilizes NTPEP testing on a lot of materials, way beyond the bridge preservation area. However, material producers are not specifically required to go to NTPEPOur specifications require independent laboratory testing and we recognize NTPEP as an independent laboratory providing testing to qualify products for use in highway construction.

So, do you use NTPEP as a source of independent testing?

  • Yes, when our specifications overlap with the NTPEP work plan, then we accept NTPEP test results for those test parameters.

Industry representatives feel burdened by the fact that NTPEP is not accepted as a sole source of testing by the majority of the states. Duplicate testing is time consuming and costly. How do you respond to industry?

  • I believe that if a state feels that additional tests are needed to prequalify a product, then those tests should be done. It is a prerogative of the states to specify suitable testing.Some states have special requirements. As an example, in Florida we have very high UV radiation and therefore we require materials that are resistant to UV degradation. We may want to have additional outdoor tests that are not required by states like Maine or Washington.  Our goal is to use the highest quality materials that are likely to work in our climate for our applications.

What do you think about creating 3 or 4 climate zones for NTPEP testing that have common test protocol?

  • NTPEP has already done that with some product categories. Reflective sign sheeting is a good example. NTPEP requires that the sheeting be tested in Louisiana representing the Southeast, Minnesota representing the Northern portion of the country and also Arizona for the Southwest. I think that NTPEP has already embraced that philosophy.

Can I say that NTPEP should consider extending its experience with reflective sign sheeting to the categories that entail bridge preservation

  • I think that it needs to be looked at material by material. If a material is not sensitive to the climate, it’s pointless. If it is, creating a climate zone test protocol should be put in place.

What should NTPEP do to become more appealing to Florida DOT? Again I would like to remain focused on the bridge preservation categories.

  • NTPEP could consider modifications to their work plans so that they are more in-line with Florida DOT specifications and their test requirements are consistent with our prequalification process. However, I do realize this statement may be unrealistic.

In your opinion, what are NTPEP’s achievements to date, and conversely what are the shortcomings?

  • NTPEP is a great program. It reduces time and costs for manufacturers by eliminating the need to have a product tested by each individual state. In other words, if a manufacturer wants its product to be approved in all 50 states, and all 50 states recognize NTPEP, the product could be approved in one step.  From a manufacturer’s perspective, the program is very efficient, saving time and money.On the down side, I think NTPEP should push for more competition between the labs that perform testing. I think it would be beneficial for everybody if NTPEP can bring prices down for some of their required tests.

Do you know of any companies that complained of the high cost of NTPEP?

  • I do not deal with manufacturers directly. I feel that in some in some instances, that cost is very high.

At the core of NTPEP program: a conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle – PART 2

Katheryn Malusky

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle

Here is the second part of my conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle about the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP).  In this conversation we speak about mission and goals for NTPEP as well as its programs for the future.

Katheryn is the Associate Program Manager for AASHTO’s National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP). She manages and oversees the operations of the NTPEP program and also works closely with several of the NTPEP technical committees and the NTPEP Executive Committee.

Derrick is the Chemical and Corrosion Laboratory Specialist at KYTC Division of Materials. He chairs NTPEP-Technical Committee on Coatings

1. Could you speak about NTPEP’s mission?

Katheryn – The mission of the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program is to provide cost-effective evaluations for state DOTs, focusing on product testing and manufacturing audit.

2. What are the goals of NTPEP?

Katheryn – Simplify the product evaluation process and make it more cost-effective for both the manufacturers and the states, reduce duplication of effort by state DOTs, serve as a “one stop shop” for manufacturers.

3. Do you think NTPEP has reached its goals?

Katheryn – Yes, I do believe NTPEP has reached its goals. This is supported by the fact that states continue to ask NTPEP to evaluate additional products or audit manufacturing plants. Representatives from several manufacturers regularly ask NTPEP to evaluate their products. This increases their visibility and product credibility.

4. In your opinion, what are the challenges that NTPEP has to address in the near term?

Katheryn – A major challenge is created by the approaching retirements of chair/vice-chairs of technical committees and also the personnel at test facilities. NTPEP needs to have a succession plan in place; otherwise we will lose valuable knowledge.

We need to find volunteers between state DOT s and industry members in order to assist in putting together the next version of DataMine, which is a big undertaking.

With NTPEP growing at a rapid rate, AASHTO needs to make sure we have the right amount of resources so we can continue to deliver the “wants and needs” of all AASHTO member departments.

5. Does NTPEP take advantage of the work done by construction industry associations, such as ICRI, ACI and NACE? 

Katheryn – We do have association representation in a lot of technical committees. If there is an association that is not included in a committee and wants to be included, representatives of the association could reach out to myself or the chair of a specific committee or attend the annual meeting. We welcome the participation of industry associations at our meetings.

On the other hand, if these associations want to know what NTPEP is doing, either AASHTO NTPEP members or chairs of technical committees can attend the association meetings, give a report and have an open discussion with the association members.

NTPEP deals with a lot of different products and technologies. It is hard for us to reach out to every association, but if there are associations that want to be more involved with NTPEP, we are open to establishing a relationship.

Derrick – There are a number of technical committees that do interact with industry associations on a regular basis, providing feedback on the work plans. As an example, the polymer concrete overlay technical committee communicated with ICRI on the topic of surface preparation. The concrete coating committee also got feedback from ICRI. On the corrosion side, we are very intertwined with SSPC.

6. How do you envision NTPEP moving forward?

Katheryn – Within the next 5 years NTPEP plans to focus on a number of areas with the purpose of promoting the growth of product approval and assessment program services offered to the members.

We are going to implement five new plant manufacturing audit programs:

1. Guardrail (AASHTO M180)/Guiderail (AASHTO M30)
2. Elastomeric Bridge Bearing Pads (AASHTO M251)
3. Erosion Control Products
4. Metal Pipe (AASHTO M36)
5. Reinforced Polyethylene Pipe (AASHTO MP20)

And four new product evaluation programs:

1. Warm Mix Additives
2. Timber Products
3. Portland Cement
4. Manhole Covers

7. What about joints, which is such an important element of bridge preservation?

Derrick – Over the last two years there has been an effort to move forward with a NCHRP (National Cooperative Highway Research Program) research proposal to determine an appropriate performance base evaluation of bridge joint materials. As soon as we get enough backing through the NCHRP process, we will be able to do some research and make evaluations about this industry practice.  An established protocol for bridge joint materials could be conveyed into an NTPEP process and a technical committee could be potentially added.

NTPEP is not a perfect fit for everything. Products and processes for local and / or niche applications do not fit NTPEP because there is not enough volume for a NTPEP technical committee to be established.

8. What about new emerging technologies?

Derrick – Emerging technologies are part of the AASHTO Product Evaluation List (APEL) process. This process exists for products that do not have a big market segment or a lot of competition. APEL is our tool to branch out to emerging technologies.


Thank you Katheryn and Derrick!

At the core of the NTPEP program: A conversation with Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle – PART 1

Katheryn Malusky

Author: Lorella Angelini, Angelini Consulting Services, LLC

Perspective of: Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle

I have had a long, interesting conversation with two people who are at the center of the action with the National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP), Katheryn Malusky and Derrick Castle.

Katheryn is the Associate Program Manager for AASHTO’s NTPEP. She manages and oversees the operations of the NTPEP program and works closely with several of the NTPEP Technical and Executive Committees. Derrick is the Chemical and Corrosion Laboratory Specialist at KYTC Division of Material. He chairs NTPEP-Technical Committee on Coatings.

The conversation has been so rich with information that I decided to split it in two parts. Here is the first part. Next Tuesday the second part will be published.

1. Why was NTPEP created?

Katheryn – NTPEP was established within AASHTO in 1994, as a technical service program reporting to the Standing Committee on Highways (SCOH).

It combines the professional and physical resources of the AASHTO member departments with the objective to evaluate materials, products and devices of common interest for use in highway and bridge construction.

2. Is NTPEP an evaluation or a testing program?

Derrick– NTPEP is an organization that tests and evaluates products.

NTPEP should not be confused with an approval process.  It is the responsibility of state DOTs to establish acceptance criteria for test data received from NTPEP in order to accept or reject a product for use in that state.

3. How has NTPEP evolved over time, in terms of size, type of products, concept?

Katheryn – The program has grown from initial 5 product categories to include over 23 categories.  In 2008 a manufacturing audit plan was added to the program. This has helped NTPEP provide broader service to the member departments for both product evaluation and manufacturing review.

Product evaluations and manufacturing audits by NTPEP provide a central, unbiased source of data for our member departments.  Members can evaluate products that meet their specification requirements on a preliminary basis and have confidence in the data they are utilizing.

NTPEP also provides the manufacturers with a way to move their products for use by state transportation agencies, and know they will have a fair and level playing field for evaluation.

In 2013, we completed a survey of member departments regarding usage of data for all product categories.  There has been substantial growth over the past 4 years in state participation and data usage. Manufacturers have also become more involved with NTPEP technical committees in the past few years.

4. Should the NTPEP program be accepted by a larger number of states? For the four categories that entail bridge preservation, the acceptance of the program is not widespread.

Katheryn – We get this question very often from product manufacturers. Why 30 state DOTs are not looking at this data? Why are only 15 states looking at it? The fact is that NTPEP cannot tell states what to do.

NTPEP is an AASHTO technical service program and its adoption is voluntary, just like every other technical service program within the AASHTO engineering department. State DOTs can use the NTPEP program or they can do something different for product evaluation. For example, some states utilize the NTPEP program but elect to ask manufacturers for additional testing.

In order to make states better understand the NTPEP program, we organize a series of activities, such as peer exchange and face-to-face meetings. At the end though, it is a state’s prerogative to decide what to use and what not to use.

Derrick– Let me underline that state DOT membership in NTPEP is completely voluntary.

To reinforce what Katheryn said, it is a state’s prerogative to accept or qualify a certain material for usage. NTPEP makes great efforts to communicate with all 50 states at each level. AASHTO staff has done an excellent job of making inroads with each state, and also trying to keep up with the turnover of personnel in the states.

5. In your opinion, what are the benefits that NTPEP brings to DOT Agencies?

Katheryn – I can summarize the benefits in four points: savings of costs and time, assurance of high quality testing program, predictable testing schedule, and a large testing data base.

6. And what are the benefits to product manufacturers?

Katheryn – The program allows for a “one-stop” shop for manufacturers in order to have their products tested and evaluated. Manufacturers are also able to receive real time data.

7. What does it mean? 

Katheryn – NTPEP should be thought of as a data collection / distribution warehouse.  Manufacturers have the capability to review the data and approve it for release to the states for evaluation.

8. Can a manufacturer decide whether to release test data or not?

Katheryn – Only to an extent. In the past some data was not released. With our new software system this is no more an option. If a manufacturer is not satisfied with NTPEP test data, the manufacturer has two options: either to withdraw a product from the program or to contact the test facility for re-testing. If a manufacturer withdraws a product, it cannot be retested unless the formulation is significantly changed. The bottom line is that test data will not be left in a limbo.

Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation

Author: Ed Welch, NCPP-Bridge Preservation Engineerjm

Perspective of: Jim Moulthrop, Executive Director FP2

Jim has had considerable experience with the marketing of the Preservation Perspective for pavements thru the Foundation for Pavement Preservation (FP2), a nonprofit trade association compiled of Industry members. They have three Major Objectives: To Advocate for Preservation at all levels of government, To Support Research Funding, and To Communicate the value of Preservation.

Jim’s Key Points.  What he has learned working with Pavement side of Preservation:

  1. There was a great need to get Preservation in ”The Law” (MAP-21). FP2 spent extensive time and resources to promote the inclusion of the Pavement Preservation in MAP-21, and they were successful in having it included, and consequently are seeing a positive outcome.
  2. The Pavement Preservation quarterly magazine “Pavement Preservation Journal” is a great way to tell the story. With over a 5,000 circulation, it also generates revenue of $10,000.00/Yr.  thru advertising.
  3. LTAP buy in takes a long time. Local Agencies have few resources and without being exposed to the Value of Preservation they will probably not consider it. A continued effort in Local training eventually pays off.
  4. Use simple analogies to make the public understand. Make comparisons of Maintaining & Preserving Homes, Cars, teeth, etc.
  5. “Money is always an issue”, but FP2 Members have found that Research and Lobbying, that are costly, are effective. Jim’s biggest frustration is that FP2 is “never fully funded” to accomplish all the needs that they have defined, but they only have 30 contributors. There is always more to do, so it should be carefully prioritized.
  6. Once organized, Jim has found that you need to have top level people on the board (Executives, Directors & Owners). These are the individuals whose support is most effective with networking and funding development

Please post a comment on “Communicating the Value of Bridge Preservation”. Hopefully, Jim Moulthrop’ s perspective on the Pavement side of the same issue will be food for thought and help us move forward as we promote the stewardship of our nations bridges.