Windsor deterioration a 'multimillion-dollar problem'

Windsor deterioration a 'multimillion-dollar problem'

URBANA — A 24-year-old section of Windsor Road in Urbana is in such deteriorated shape that it needs to be torn up and rebuilt, according to Urbana's public works director.

The mile-plus, four-lane section of concrete pavement between Philo Road and Race Street suffers from alkali-silica reaction, or ASR, in which the concrete bond breaks down and flakes into fragments.

"The pavement has a cancer. It's terminal," said Bill Gray, Urbana's public works director. "It's not like you can remove a portion of it and save the rest of it. It's throughout the pavement. And it's a very unfortunate thing."

The cost to rebuild the section of Windsor Road will be well into the millions of dollars, Gray acknowledged.

"We have a multimillion-dollar problem," he said. "It's a big situation that we're going to have to address in the years ahead."

The cost of the project dwarfs all of the annual revenue Urbana gets from the state motor fuel tax — about $1 million — and from its own gas tax, now proposed to increase to 4 cents a gallon — about $700,000.

"It could take several years of revenue alone," he said.

City and county officials are looking at one way to reduce the cost and size of the project, putting that section of Windsor on a "diet" and trimming it to three lanes instead of the current four, Gray said. A report on the feasibility of such a move is expected from the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Study later this summer.

"We're going to get the study done. We need to know that and then we'll need to have a consultant take a serious look at our options for replacing it," Gray said. "We've kicked around a variety of ideas, but they're all very costly."

The crumbling section of Windsor was built in 1988 and began showing signs of damage four or five years ago, Gray said.

"Usually a concrete pavement isn't going to totally fail like that," Gray said. "It's just a certain high content of chemicals in the concrete, along with moisture, along with freezing and thawing. The concrete bond is breaking down and the pavement is failing, so what happens is it's almost like you have a bunch of gravel strewn about the pavement. The pieces can be various sizes anywhere from a half-inch to several inches in diameter. And it becomes bigger and bigger if left unattended."

David Peshkin, vice president of Applied Pavement Technologies in Urbana, described ASR as "basically an unintended reaction between the ingredients in concrete which in the presence of water forms an expansive byproduct that breaks up the concrete from inside. When you have it you end up not having a lot of good alternatives for taking care of it."

Parts of Windsor Road in Champaign also have experienced pavement problems, said Roland White, Champaign's city engineer. About 30 to 40 percent of the section between First and Neil streets was torn up and replaced two years ago.

"It was never officially determined as (ASR), but we saw the same signs of distress and cracking," he said. Now the city is experiencing similar problems with fairly new concrete streets in a number of subdivisions, including Sawgrass, Ironwood West and Ashland Park, he said.

"It's something the whole industry is watching and is wary of," he said.

Gray said ASR is a problem that goes well beyond Champaign-Urbana.

"This is an issue in Minnesota and Colorado and multiple other states. It's not a new phenomenon for concrete," he said. "You really need to be aware of the raw materials used and their content. They need to be tested to make sure of their chemical content."

Kurt Smith, a program director with Applied Pavement Technology in Urbana, said that ASR is common throughout the United States, and not only in concrete pavement.

"At one time, it was thought to be just a problem in the western United States, but in the last 15 to 20 years it's been determined that every state in the country has some degree of ASR issues," Smith said.

It's also been discovered in dams, bridge abutments and retaining walls. It's also been found in some interstate highway projects, particularly in Nebraska and Colorado.

The Illinois Department of Transportation now tests individual components to be used in concrete pavement formulas, said Scott Lackey, a materials engineer at the Paris office of the agency, in order to reduce the likelihood of ASR.

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parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on May 12, 2012 at 9:05 am

no roundabouts; no Olympian Drive; no Lincoln Avenue curve to nowhere equals the cost of about 4 or 5 windsor roads!!!!!!

dw wrote on May 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

How does a Prius achieve its amazingly high city MPG?  While there are several factors, the major one is not stopping and waiting at stoplights (with the engine on).

A system of roundabouts gives every existing vehicle the fuel efficiency of a hybrid vehicle by eliminating stopping and waiting at lights.

Next time gas prices are high and you're sitting at a stoplight burning ga$$$, remember that you could've already been through that intersection if it were a roundabout.

Roundabouts get you where you're going safer, in less time (higher average speed), by driving slower (lower top speed) and burning less fuel saving you $$$.  

Roundabouts turn every vehicle into the functional equivalent of a hybrid on local roads and over time save far more $$$ than they cost.

ClearVision wrote on May 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

So by that logic, every intersection should be a roundabout. Nobody would have to stop, ever. Good thinking.

I've driven on traffic circles. Guess what? Rules of right of way still apply. People still have to slow or stop.

Lostinspace wrote on May 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

Next time, get a Roman engineer.  Their roads lasted a little longer than 20 years.

opinions1973 wrote on May 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

"City and county officials are looking at one way to reduce the cost and size of the project, putting that section of Windsor on a "diet" and trimming it to three lanes instead of the current four, Gray said. A report on the feasibility of such a move is expected from the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Study later this summer."   Well this makes sence, Urbana just widened the adjoining section from Philo Road to Route 130 to four lanes....  more good ideas from the ones in charge in urbana.......



Sid Saltfork wrote on May 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Sell some statues.  No one will miss them.

Nightrider wrote on May 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm


goinfast00 wrote on May 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I AGREE WITH NIGHTRIDER, AND HERES WHY: Damage due to alkali-silica reaction (ASR) in concrete is a phenomenon that was first recognized in the U.S. since 1940 and has since been observed in many countries. Despite numerous studies published, the mechanism is not yet clearly understood. Nevertheless, the three major factors in concrete have been identified, i.e., the alkalies contained in the pore solution, reactive amorphous or poorly crystallized silica present in certain aggregates, and water. In this study, we attempted to address the question: is high-performance concrete (HPC) susceptible to ASR? Researchers have not reached an agreement on this matter because factors other than the three major ones (pore solution alkalinity, aggregate morphology and water presence) play a significant role in the occurrence of ASR; these factors include aggregate gradation, w/c and compressive strength. It was found that air content is the most important variable (other than the three majors factors cited above) that increase expansion of concretes affected by ASR. This study indicates that even HPC should be susceptible to ASR if reactive aggregates are used.

goinfast00 wrote on May 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Preventing Alkali-Silica Reaction and Delayed Ettringite Formation in New Concrete:

Project Objectives
The main objectives and goals of this project can be summarized as follows:
1 Understand the underlying mechanisms behind ASR and/or DEF

2 Review available test methods for aggregate reactivity and for preventive measures and recommend test method(s) to prevent ASR and/or DEF in new concrete

3 Develop specification and guidelines to prevent ASR and/or DEF in new concrete

4 Identify and implement strategies for preventing ASR and/or DEF, with emphasis on prudent use of supplementary cementing materials (SCMs)

5 Develop protocol for evaluating the cause, extent, and future potential for damage caused by ASR and/or DEF in existing concrete structures

6 Transfer knowledge and experience gained from this project to TxDOT practice to increase the service

PERHAPS THE CITY SHOULD NOT TAKE "THE ENVELOPE" AND CONTACT :Research Supervisor: Kevin Folliard, Ph.D., (512) 232-3591
TxDOT Project Director: Joseph Roche, P.E., Construction Division, (512) 506-5932
TxDOT Research Engineer: Tom Yarbrough, P.E., Research and Technology Implementation Office,
(512) 465-7403



goinfast00 wrote on May 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

BUY A BOOK BEFORE WASTING MILLIONS: Prevention of Alkali-Silica Reaction in New Concrete Follow the steps in the flowchart below to determine if potential for ASR exists and to select materials to control ASR. For more information move your mouse over the individual flowchart boxes. (Source: IS413 and IS415).

Featured Publications

 Diagnosis and Control of Alkali-Aggregate Reactions in Concrete (IS413)
This 26-page document provides leading edge approaches to identify and control alkali-silica reactivity and alkali-carbonate reactivity in concrete. Guide Specification for Concrete Subject to Alkali-Silica Reactions (IS415)
This guide specification provides a variety of methods to control ASR, including tests to determine if aggregates are potentially reactive and methods to demonstrate how pozzolans and blended cements can effectively control ASR.

randyandjoy1 wrote on May 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm

The roads are built  by the "low bidder" who agrees to do the work the cheapest. Enough those who have ears to hear, let THEM hear.

You'd be amazed how few "get it"...even those so-called "learned" one's in our midst with college degrees!

ugh-a wrote on May 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

It doesn't always go to the lowest (cheapest) bidder. If the bidder happens to be the cheapest but can't meet other criteria of a bid response, for example, the low-bid contractor can't demonstrate that it can perofrm work up to the standards set by the agency letting the bid, the lowest bidder may not win the contract. Either way, it is always the responsibility of the agency seeking the bids to set the standards for materials and construction that will dicatate the overall performance of a project. 

Nightrider wrote on May 15, 2012 at 6:05 am

I agree with ugh-a's comment... "Either way, it is always the responsibility of the agency seeking the bids to set the standards for materials and construction that will dicatate the overall performance of a project". So has this question been answered? I might have missed it but weren't there signed contracts in place to address the quality of the materials? The cities are usually all over stuff like this, makes me think of: permits for homeowners wouldn't they have set standards for the quality of materials used in a million dollar road project? So if there were standards in place were they met? If not that business or supplier needs to eat the cost, not the taxpayer or would be great if the gazette could dig for documents (freedom of information act) to show the details of at least one of these construction projects and the details of the contract.

On a different note (but concrete related)....The city is billing homeowners for stormwater drainage problems by charging all homeowners the same fee regardless if they have a concrete driveway or rock driveway. Should the city charge those properties that are not contributing to the stormwater runoff (those with gravel driveways). Seems that my gravel driveway is not the problem so why should I be chipping in for everyone else's concrete driveway? Oh and I don't have to worry about my driveway flaking away either!