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With ever tightening budgets and limitations of demolition equipment, states are looking for cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable methods for removing concrete decks from bridges. The goal of this research was to explore such methods. The research team conducted qualitative studies through a literature review, interviews, surveys, and workshops and performed small-scale trials and push-out tests (shear strength evaluations). Interviews with bridge owners and contractors indicated that concrete deck replacement was more economical than replacing an entire superstructure under the assumption that the salvaged superstructure has adequate remaining service life and capacity. Surveys and workshops provided insight into advantages and disadvantages of deck removal methods, information that was used to guide testing. Small-scale trials explored three promising deck removal methods: hydrodemolition, chemical splitting, and peeling.


The related 3-page technology transfer summary, under the same title, can be found at:

Report Number

WBS: 25-1121-0003-134; Iowa DOT TR-647; InTrans 12-435

Granting Agencies

Iowa Highway Research Board, Iowa DOT;

Mid-America Transportation Center;

U.S. DOT Research and Innovative Technology Center



File Format


File Size

7 MB