Assessment of a Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement Interstate Intersection

This project consisted of conducting a forensic investigation into the cause(s) of the observed random cracking and poor quality finished surfaces in the continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) highway intersections along sections of Loop 375 in El Paso, Texas. During this investigation, CA conducted a visual inspection of the CRCP sections exhibiting distress, performed a petrographic examination of concrete cores obtained from the pavements being investigated, reviewed reports from other investigators, evaluated the concrete production records, and reviewed construction related documents including weather conditions and construction daily reports. The observed distress consisted primarily of poor quality finished surfaces and random plastic shrinkage cracking. Findings indicated that high evaporative weather conditions, lack of protection of the concrete surface, and poor concrete curing practices contributed to the distress observed. The distressed CRCP highway sections were removed and replaced.

Mass Concrete Footings

A state highway project in South Texas included the placement of numerous reinforced concrete footings classified as mass concrete elements.  CA was retained by the General Contractor to provide a thermal control plan for the placement of the mass concrete footings in order to control the temperature limits as set forth by the Texas Department of Transportation as well as provide monitoring and early age protection recommendations to prevent thermal induced damage to the foundations.   CA’s work included, among others, the review of plans and drawings, evaluation of materials and concrete mix designs, monitoring and analysis of thermal data during early age of the concrete and providing guidelines and recommendations for the curing and early age protection of the concrete to prevent thermal cracking. Ultimately, CA was able to provide guideloines and  recommendations regarding a thermal plan including materials selection,  mixture proportions, fresh concrete temperature limits, maximum allowable temperature gradients, pre-placement cooling guidelines, and an intricate temperature monitoring system including the placement, logging, monitoring and recording of the thermal  data.

Tennis Court Complex Forensic Engineering Investigation

CA was retained to perform a structural investigation and determine the cause(s) of the distress in two tennis court facilities located at a junior high school and high school in South Texas. To accommodate construction on expansive soil conditions, the structural system of the tennis courts was comprised of precast concrete hollow core planks (HCP) with a 3 inch concrete topping slab supported by cast-in-place reinforced concrete piers. Shortly after construction the owner noticed distress in the form of cracking and spalling along joints in the playing surface of the tennis courts. It was determined that the cracking was reflective cracking propagating from the longitudinal and transverse joints between HCPs which also resulted in localized spalling of the topping slab. CA’s investigation into the problem consisted of, among others, review and evaluation of construction related documents, review of third party repair options, review of expert reports, review of plans and drawings, detailed condition survey and elevation surveys, exploratory coring to assess the details of the jointing between HPCs, structural analysis of the tennis court system, design of a repair alternative, as well as several site visits to the structures. Through the forensic engineering investigation, CA was able to determine the cause(s) of the distress and provide the client appropriate remediation procedures.

Air Pollutant Emissions Assessment of a Ready-Mix Concrete Plant

This project consisted of an environmental impact analysis of a ready mix concrete batching operation in San Juan, Puerto Rico that was housed entirely inside a self-standing, enclosed structure. CA was retained to assess the particulate matter and fugitive dust emissions to the atmosphere resulting from industrial activities including ready mix concrete operations. Investigation into the assessment of the conditions included two site visits to the batching plant, discussions with personnel from the ready mix concrete company, and review and evaluation of documents such as specifications, industry standards, engineering reports, relevant published literature, and local regulations. With the investigation mentioned, CA was able to assess whether or not the ready mix concrete batching operations were compliant with environmental standards for atmospheric dust emissions.

Warehouse Slab-on-Grade Distress Investigation

A 160,000 square foot warehouse located in Austin, TX was exhibiting distress of the finished concrete floor in the form of aggregate exposure, distress, surface wear, and joint deterioration of both control joints and construction joints in the cast-in-place slab-on-grade. In addition, several areas were identified as containing cold joints and poor quality concrete within the cast-in-place slab-on-grade. CA was retained to perform a detailed condition survey to identify and determine the cause(s) of the defects within the slab and to develop concrete repair recommendations. CA’s condition survey included photographic documentation, distress mapping, non-destructive testing using ground penetrating radar, concrete core sampling, and petrographic examination. The investigation also included an assessment of the equipment and use of the facility as well as an evaluation of the specifications, plans, drawings and construction related documents. CA determined the cause of distress in the concrete and provided the client with a repair plan to prevent future distress that would have otherwise been caused by the existing defects within the slab-on-grade.  CA also aided in the litigation for this project by participating in mediation proceedings.

Corrosion of Warehouse Distribution Facility in Costa Rica

CA was retained to perform a forensic investigation to evaluate the distress observed in the cast-in-place concrete slab-on-grade at a 196,000 square foot distribution warehouse facility in Costa Rica. Thirty days after placement of the concrete, the owner of the facility observed signs of distress in the form of severe corrosion staining on the surface of the slab-on-grade warehouse floor which had been treated with a metallic aggregate floor hardener. The corrosion on the concrete surface had also affected the corrosion of the steel storage racks in the facility. CA’s investigation included the review and evaluation of construction related documents, assessment of the concreting practices, review of forensic engineering expert reports, a site visit and condition survey of the facility, temperature and humidity data collection, and concrete core sampling for petrographic examination. CA was able to determine the cause(s) of the distress through its investigation, which included construction defects, inadequate concreting practices during placement and curing, and provided the client with repair recommendations to ensure concrete durability of the warehouse.

Warehouse Slab-on-Grade Concrete Condition Survey and Design Review

The 14,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility consisted of a cast-in-place reinforced concrete slab-on-grade with perimeter and interior concrete grade beams and CMU exterior and interior walls. CA was retained to determine the cause(s) of the distress which was observed within weeks of the placement of the concrete slab-on-grade.  Distress included concrete cracking, surface delamination, dusting of the concrete slab, cracking of the floor tile in the office spaces, and cracking of the CMU walls. CA’s investigation included, among others, a comprehensive condition survey including concrete coring non-destructive testing to locate reinforcement, petrographic examination, review and evaluation of the engineering design and project specifications, plans and drawings, construction procedures, and concrete materials and their proportions. In addition, CA performed a detailed review and analysis of the concrete production records and concrete placement procedures and also aided in litigation support for this project.

Slab-on-Grade and Pavement Distress Investigation and Remediation

This project consisted of a 67,500 square foot warehouse distribution facility supported by concrete slab on grade and exterior Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) and Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) pavement areas to accommodate truck traffic and storage yard areas. Several weeks after the facility was in service, the owner noticed water seeping out at several locations along the construction joint between the PCC and HMA pavement areas. Additional distress was observed in the HMA pavement in the next year. CA was retained to assess the existing condition of the HMA pavements and warehouse concrete slab-on-grade to determine the cause(s) and/or contributing factors of the observed distress, and to provide recommendations, if needed, for any remedial actions to restore its service life to that intended in the design. CA’s forensic engineering investigation into the cause of the problems included a detailed condition survey of the HMA pavement areas, analysis of results from soil borings, materials sampling, water level measurements from monitoring wells, comprehensive review and evaluation of construction related documents, and review of relevant industry standards and literature. Through its forensic engineering investigation CA was able to develop an economical plan to divert the water away from the slabs, and restore service life to the slabs through remedial action.

Evaluation of an Asphalt USAF Radar Landing Pad

A radar landing pad in Lajas, PR serves vehicles that are used to deploy a blimp carrying surveillance equipment. The landing pad is a large circular, paved area with a diameter of approximately 200 m. Most of the landing pad is paved with asphalt, with the exception of a centered circular area, with a diameter of about 55 m, which is paved with concrete. As a result of age, the asphalt concrete portion of the landing pad was rehabilitated in early 2010. The rehabilitation involved milling and resurfacing with asphalt, along with some full-depth asphalt repair. A few months after the rehabilitation project was completed, the surface of the asphalt exhibited distress in the form of surface shear, or tearing. Carrasquillo Associates (CA) was hired to characterize the pavement distress and to review the rehabilitation design and construction records. CA performed independent pavement design calculations using the design and current heavy forklift traffic conditions. CA also reviewed the contractor’s asphalt mixture design and quality control records, which included mixture property characteristics and compaction data. The distress was indicative of heavy forklift traffic exceeding the design loading for the pavement. A rehabilitation option using a rigid pavement surface, of either portland cement concrete or resin-modified pavement was also evaluated.

Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) in Slab-on-Grade Driveways

CA performed a forensic engineering investigation to determine the cause(s) of the distress observed in the exterior concrete slab-on-grade driveways and sidewalks of numerous homes in a single family residential neighborhood. The observed distress consisted of surface discoloration, pop outs, and peeling of the membrane coating, which was installed on several driveways in an attempt to remediate the distress. CA’s forensic investigation included, among others, visual inspections of more than 100 installations, concrete core sampling, and testing of the bond strength between the membrane coating and the concrete substrate. In addition, CA directed petrographic examination of several concrete cores sampled from the distressed and non-distressed locations in order to investigate any alkali aggregate reaction in the concrete. CA determined that alkali-silica reaction in the concrete was one of the cause(s) of the observed distress and developed recommendations for the concrete surface repair and remediation of the in-place concrete pavement.