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Detect ASR Earlier, Extend Concrete Service Life with New FHWA Field Identification Handbook

Engineers with a concrete wall that has been affected by map-pattern cracking from alkali-silica reactivity (ASR). Engineers assessing a Rhode Island concrete wall affected by map-pattern cracking, a symptom typical of alkali-silica reactivity (ASR).

AUSTIN, TX, January 10, 2013—The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released an updated field guide for recognizing and evaluating concrete with apparent alkali-silica reactivity (ASR) distress. Developed under FHWA’s ASR Development and Deployment Program, the Alkali-Silica Reactivity Field Identification Handbook is available as a compact spiral-bound guide, or it may be freely downloaded from FHWA’s online pavement publications.

ASR—a moisture-aggravated chemical reaction between particular combinations of cement and aggregates—can considerably shorten the service life of concrete structures if left undetected and untreated.

The new handbook is FHWA’s most comprehensive visual ASR guide: nearly 70 updated photos of ASR symptoms in varied scenarios will help agencies identify ASR as quickly as possible. Early detection improves the success of treatments to mitigate ASR and extend the service life of an affected concrete structure.

The handbook was developed under a contract between FHWA and The Transtec Group, an international pavement engineering and research firm.

ASR-affected concrete expands and cracks—in cases of prolonged damage, structures tend to shift, typically resulting in joint failure. Structures affected by ASR tend to exhibit initial symptoms five to ten years after construction, but concrete in warmer, humid climates may show symptoms after less than two years.

To obtain a physical copy of FHWA’s Alkali-Silica Reactivity Field Identification Handbook optimized for field use, contact, and include the official report number: FHWA-HIF-12-022.

To download a digital version of the handbook, visit FHWA online.

About The Transtec Group: The Transtec Group is a pavement engineering firm that delivers exceptional engineering in pavement design, design/build, P3, research, pavement surfaces testing, pavement software development, and technology implementation.  Transtec engineers pavements that reduce cost, accelerate schedules, and protect clients from risk.  The firm has completed over 600 projects worth more than $20 billion on five continents and is a minority-owned small business based in Austin, Texas.  For more information, please visit