Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Mark D. Bowman

Committee Chair

Mark D. Bowman

Committee Member 1

Ayhan Irfanoglu

Committee Member 2

Michael E. Kreger

Committee Member 3

Judy Liu

Committee Member 4

Robert H. Spitzer


The integrity and efficiency of any national highway system relies on the condition of the various components. Bridges are fundamental elements of a highway system, representing an important investment and a strategic link that facilitates the transport of persons and goods. The cost to rehabilitate or replace a highway bridge represents an important expenditure to the owner, who needs to evaluate the correct time to assume that cost. Among the several factors that affect the condition of steel highway bridges, corrosion is identified as the main problem. In the USA corrosion is the primary cause of structurally deficient steel bridges.

The benefit of regular high-pressure superstructure washing and spot painting were evaluated as effective maintenance activities to reduce the corrosion process. The effectiveness of steel girder washing was assessed by developing models of corrosion deterioration of composite steel girders and analyzing steel coupons at the laboratory under atmospheric corrosion for two alternatives: when high-pressure washing was performed and when washing was not considered. The effectiveness of spot painting was assessed by analyzing the corrosion on steel coupons, with small damages, unprotected and protected by spot painting.

A parametric analysis of corroded steel girder bridges was considered. The emphasis was focused on the parametric analyses of corroded steel girder bridges under two alternatives: (a) when steel bridge girder washing is performed according to a particular frequency, and (b) when no bridge washing is performed to the girders. The reduction of structural capacity was observed for both alternatives along the structure service life, estimated at 100 years. An economic analysis, using the Life-Cycle Cost Analysis method, demonstrated that it is more cost-effective to perform steel girder washing as a scheduled maintenance activity in contrast to the no washing alternative