Syracuse University Magazine


Under Interstate 690, near the Interstate 81 interchange, in downtown Syracuse.

Research Snapshot

Project: Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Deteriorated Concrete Bridge Components

Investigator: Riyad S. Aboutaha

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Sponsor: Research Foundation of the City University of New York

Amount Awarded: $76,165 (April 2012 - June 2013)

Background: Corrosion of steel bars in reinforced concrete structures is a major durability problem for bridges constructed in New York State. The heavy use of deicing salt further compounds this problem. Corrosion of steel bars results in loss of the steel cross section, deterioration of the bond between concrete and reinforcing bars, and more important, in most cases, it results in an asymmetrical concrete section that is susceptible to shear stresses produced by torsion.

The frequency of earthquakes and the expected rate of ground movement  in the state are less than those experienced in western states, and most earthquakes go undetected by people. However, given the level of deterioration in many reinforced concrete bridges in the state, they are considered vulnerable to major damage during a moderate seismic event. For example, potential damage of bridge structures in New York City would have a serious impact on the state’s economy, disrupt the traffic, and slow down recovery from the earthquake.

There is an urgent need for a proper detailed guide for analysis of deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge components that could assist structural engineers in estimating the reserved strength of deteriorated bridges, and designing cost-effective methods for retrofit.

Impact: Proper evaluation and retrofit of existing deteriorated reinforced concrete bridges will limit collapses during a moderate seismic event in the state, consequently saving people’s lives, and reducing its impact on the economy. This project will evaluate the seismic response of typical deteriorated reinforced concrete bridges constructed in New York. In addition, it will offer a guideline for seismic retrofit of deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge components damaged by corrosion of steel reinforcing bars.