Thursday, September 13, 2012

Protecting Shoes...and Bridges

This blog was written by Travis Ellis of MoDOT's Northwest District office.

Everything is more expensive these days, and the need to prolong our items is becoming even more important. Many of you take the time to polish or "seal" your favorite, or most expensive pairs of shoes before the onset of winter. You do this to keep what is inside dry, and to make the shoes last longer, just like the Missouri Department of Transportation does with its bridges.

"We seal our bridges for the same reason folks seal their shoes," says District Maintenance and Traffic Engineer Marty Liles. "Whether you are weather-proofing a pair of shoes, or a bridge, it protects them from the elements and makes them last longer."

In the coming weeks, motorists can expect to see discolored bridge decks, extra work zones and crews around many of Missouri's bridges.

As the sealant is applied, it fills cracks, even those too small for most people to see. That keeps water from seeping into the pavement. When water does manage to get through pavement, it expands when it freezes, causing the crack to grow larger, sometimes creating potholes.
Bridges are selected for sealing, or re-sealing, based on a number of factors. All new bridges are sealed prior to their first winter. After a bridge has been sealed the first time, existing bridges are scheduled for re-sealing on a rotating basis.

"We are taxpayers too, and we want to preserve and prolong our roads and bridges in the most cost-effective means as possible," says District Engineer Don Wichern. "Sealing a bridge deck prolongs the life of the bridge, thereby pushing back the day when it will have to be replaced. It's just another way we are trying to maintain our system for as long as possible with the funds available."