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Published: Monday, 10/31/2005

King bridge cracks spur calls of concern

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cracks in the rebuilt secttion of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge have raised concerns over the potential damage. Engineers call the cracks superficial that don't affect the span. Cracks in the rebuilt secttion of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge have raised concerns over the potential damage. Engineers call the cracks superficial that don't affect the span.
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Is the newly renovated Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge cracking up? To passers-by, it seems to be.

"Everyone who crosses it asks me, 'Have you seen that bridge? Have you seen that bridge?' " Bob McCloskey, a city councilman whose district includes East Toledo, said last week while poking at the cracks that lace the bridge's rebuilt sidewalks and parapet walls, some of which were completed only last year.

Some of the cracks show signs of water seeping.

City transportation officials say, however, that while some of the protective coating that was applied to the concrete is defective, the cracks themselves are normal and don't even need to be sealed up right away.

"Those are shrinkage cracks," said Kristin Cousino, the project engineer for the city division of streets, bridges, and harbor. "They were anticipated. There do appear to be an excessive amount of shrinkage cracks, but this was a project in which we were applying brand-new concrete over concrete that was over 90 years old."

As concrete hardens over time, it shrinks and shifts, Ms. Cousino said.

On some projects, that effect could be reduced somewhat by including expansion joints in the concrete, she said, but the King bridge's design minimizes such joints' usefulness.

Mr. McCloskey said he considered the cracks to be more than superficial, and wondered what will happen this winter if water gets in them and freezes.

"We spent a fortune on this, rebuilding this bridge," the councilman said.

"I think it's terrible workmanship, and the people who did it ought to be responsible for it."

Ms. Cousino said the only repair for which city officials will seek warranty coverage from Kokosing Construction Co., which renovated the bridge's concrete-arch spans for $10.2 million between 2002 and 2004, is of the defective seal coating, known as Texcoat. Some of the coating didn't stick to the concrete, allowing water to seep in behind it, she said.

"The shrinkage cracks would not be a warranty item," Ms. Cousino said.

Rust marks on part of the wall near the bridge's draw spans, which are to be replaced this winter, appears to have come from a steel plate leaned up against the wall by the draw-span contractor, Bill Franklin, the city's assistant chief operating officer, said after inspecting the concrete Thursday afternoon.

"All the reinforcing steel inside the concrete is epoxied, so it can't be coming from there," Mr. Franklin said.

Until the draw span replacement is finished next year, the two officials said, sealing the cracks and replacing the defective concrete coating would only expose the repair work to subsequent damage by the equipment or material for the construction.

"Shrinkage cracks can be coated in the next year, and they won't be a problem," Ms. Cousino said.

Mr. Franklin concurred, adding, "They're cosmetic, not structural."

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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