The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) held a briefing June 6 to review the completion of the Iway Concrete Process Review. Chief among the findings was the fact that the Iway’s concrete, proven through additional supplemental testing, is safe.
“The quality of the concrete meets or exceeds specifications in all but about one percent of the Iway, which is consistent with industry standards,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “That one percent has been reviewed by the professional engineer that designed the components of the Iway and the actual strength of these elements exceeds the structural requirements and is safe.”
Rhode Island benefits from being a small state in that nearly all of the concrete used in construction projects comes from one plant. That means there is a constant inspection and certification process going on. Larger states that use multiple sources for concrete have a much more difficult time tracking the concrete quality.
Of the 3,400 truckloads of concrete looked at by FHWA, which were used to build a portion of the Iway (parts of Contracts 6, 7, 8 and 9 prior to August 2007), it was found that 190 of those truckloads were not subject to random onsite sampling. All of the components (for example cement, sand, and stone) making up every truckload, however, did go through testing at the concrete plant.
“It is our goal to ensure that procedures are being followed. RIDOT has made changes to improve the materials quality assurance program,” said Lewis.
Changes RIDOT has undertaken include:
• An email system was set up to verify adherence to the 24-hour notice that must be given by all contractors before any concrete pours.
• The materials field inspectors were retrained in the proper sampling methods.
• In addition RIDOT Construction inspectors also were retrained to perform concrete testing to supplement where materials staffing shortages were identified.
• More than 20 RIDOT staffers were sent to an independent regional concrete inspector certification class for concrete placement and testing.
• As a result of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) comments, the materials section modified its concrete delivery forms to record more comprehensive data.
• To ensure tracking, the materials section is now comparing daily concrete batch production with the concrete cylinder samples. This will ensure consistent concrete testing according to the specifications at the site for all concrete pours.
• The department has modified its organizational structure to provide greater oversight of the materials section. It will report directly to the chief engineer increasing the independent role of the materials testing.
Rhode Island’s transportation projects will not lose any of the $3.1 million in federal funds the FHWA cited in its Notice of Ineligibility. These federal funds will be allocated to other state projects such as the Sakonnet River Bridge and the Pawtucket River Bridge.
“Where contractually appropriate, the department will take appropriate credits from the contractor for substandard concrete,” said Lewis.