Roads and bridges would last longer, save money with new concrete formula

Passing beneath a crumbling overpass or rumbling over a pothole-riddled street in almost any U.S. city, it’s hard not to wonder: Why don’t they make these things out of something that lasts longer?

Stronger and more durable concrete – known as ultra high-performance concrete – has been on the market for a while under a small handful of brand names. But high prices have kept it out of widespread use by local, state and federal governments.

At the request of Michigan’s Department of Transportation, University of Michigan engineers have concocted a nonproprietary blend of UHPC that comes with a drastically reduced cost. That concrete is currently in use on a bridge in St. Clair County, and the formula is being made available for free.

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