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Observations and analysis of a 63-year-old reinforced concrete promenade railing exposed to the North Sea

Thomas Telford
Publication Date
  • Th Building Construction
  • Ta Engineering (General). Civil Engineering (General)
  • Design


Despite being exposed to the harsh sea-spray environment of the North Sea at Arbroath, Scotland, for over 63 years, many of the reinforced concrete precast beam elements of the 1.5 km long promenade railing are still in very good condition and show little evidence of reinforcement corrosion. In contrast, railing replacements constructed in about 1968 and in 1993 are almost all badly cracked as a result of extensive corrosion of the longitudinal reinforcement. This is despite the newer concrete appearing to be of better quality than the 1943 concrete. Statistics for maximum crack width for each of the three populations, based on measurements made in 2004 and in 2006, are presented. In situ and laboratory measurements show that the 1943 concrete appears to have high permeability but it also shows high electrical resistivity. Chloride penetration measurements show the 1943 and 1993 concretes to have similar chloride profiles and similar chloride concentrations at the reinforcement bars. This is inconsistent with the 1943 beams showing much less reinforcement corrosion than their later replacements and casts doubt on the conventional practice for durability design focusing on reducing concrete permeability through denser concretes or greater cover.

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