Because it is desirable for bridge deck concrete to be strong and durable, the Kentucky Department of Highways chose to use a high-range water reducer to modify the properties of a conventional Class AA concrete mixture to be placed in a full-depth concrete bridge deck on US 127 in Lincoln County. A high-range water reducer is a chemical admixture that when added to low-to-normal slump concrete produces a high slump to flowing concrete. The higher slump enhances placement properties in areas of closely spaced and congested reinforcing steel such as that encountered in the corners of a skewed bridge structure. The addition of a high-range water reducer permits reductions in mix water in the range of 12 to 30 percent. The reduction in mix water lowers the water-to-cement ratio leading to increased strength properties. The Kentucky Department of Highways specified an admixture dosage rate of 10.42 mL per kilogram of cement (16.0 oz per 100 lbs of cement). Test results indicated that this dosage rate would facilitate the desired 15 percent reduction in the available mix water.

The use of a high-slump concrete enhances placement properties in areas of closely spaced reinforcing steel such as a skewed bridge structure. Data obtained during this study indicate that the high-range water reducing admixture also enhances durability and strength properties of concrete. The magnitude of cracking was slightly more for the experimental deck concrete but the severity of the cracks appeared to be higher in the control deck. The inability to adhere to the specified admixture rate compounded by the finishing characteristics of the concrete mixture contributed to the poor results achieved with the experimental deck. The admixture representative present during the experimental deck placement could not provide the suitable proportioning of the admixtures necessary for both a good finishing mix that also met the requirements of the project.

It is recommended that consideration be given again to the use of high-range water reducers to modify conventional bridge deck concrete in situations where the placement properties can be enhanced or where it is desired to enhance strength and durability properties. The positive attributes of the modified concrete identified in this project make it worthwhile to gain additional experience with the use of these admixtures. It is recommended the specifications be revised for any future projects to require that trial batches be performed until two separate batches conform to all specification requirements and that the bridge contractor have his intended placement and finishing personnel at the trial placements to gain experience.

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The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the University of Kentucky nor the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The inclusions of manufacturer names or trade names are for identification purposes and are not to be considered as endorsements.