Tuesday, September 28, 2021


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Completed underpass
Completed underpass.

The infrastructure that is aging across the U.S. is experiencing increased maintenance and repair expenses. Certain types of structures that require major attention to maintenance include bridges that accommodate trains, cars and pipes racks for pedestrians, and many more.

Bridges require more maintenance because they are enduring greater loads, more frequent traffic, exceeding lifespan, and are confronted with extreme environmental conditions and shifting weather conditions, along with winds and seismic activity. These factors are speeding up the aging process of bridges.

Innovative technologies are being utilized to reduce the cost of maintenance as well as improve the strength and strength and durability of structures and/or extend their lifespan. Newer and more advanced technology is a geopolymer that can be combined with the geosynthetic grid or textile. These types of repair materials are able to be used without needing modification of the structure or requiring significant construction efforts or time. They also help to reduce the spread of traffic during the repair.

Below are some typical aging structures that can be repaired while increasing the strength of the structure and increasing the functional longevity of the structure using a geopolymer/geosynthetic system.

(From left): Load deterioration, stress deterioration, and weather deterioration.
Bridge deterioration
(From left): Load deterioration, stress deterioration, and weather deterioration.

Montana Rail Link (MRL) is a Class II regional railroad company that manages more than 902 route miles of track across Montana as well as Idaho. The goods transported through Montana Rail Link include coal industrial products grains, intermodal transport, and even vehicles. In Montana, state Montana is characterized by major changes in soils and climate conditions and environmental factors that could be harmful to concrete and steel structures that pose a risk for MRL. The inspection department of MRL constantly examines their infrastructure and determines needed structures and rail repairs.

The inspection team discovered the bridge located in Laurel, Montana that needed repairs due to the concrete showing signs of wear and tear due to environmental and climate conditions. The images below highlight the state of the concrete structure prior to the repair.

Existing bridge
(From left): Existing girder conditions, existing bridge underpass, existing column condition(From left): 

MRL was referred to as Shotcrete Montana, based in Billings in Billings, Montana, to smooth the walls of the foundation with Geogrid and geopolymer. The concrete was stopped from deteriorating further. Shotcrete Montana purchased their geopolymer and geogrid from Full Moon Enterprises. Full Moon Enterprises is a supplier of a distinctive geopolymer called GeoSpray by GeoTree Solutions.

GeoSpray is generally regarded as a mortar made of cement by engineers but it has the chemical properties of a polymer that behaves as an engineered stone and offers a variety of unique characteristics like bonding strength and permeability, as well as flexural strength that is higher than all cement mortars that are available. GeoSpray is applied using a trowel or sprayed.

The repair involved cleaning the surface using a thorough cleaning, then applying an extremely thin coating of GeoSpray before applying the geogrid, then spraying it with GeoSpray on top of the geogrid, and then hand trowelling to create the surface smooth and beautiful.

The total area that was repaired was less than 5,000 sq feet which were done within five days with no closing the road during the daytime. The bridge's walkway was reopened after each day of work.


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