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Testing alternative rust protection for railings

Sweden’s national road network includes 16,018 bridges, with maintenance costs related to rusting bridge railing materials amounting to millions of kronor. Are there alternatives? RISE has carried out a study of railing protection in polyurethane with a polyester filter fabric.

The maintenance and refurbishment of rusting posts and railings on bridges costs millions of kronor each year. The most commonly used method of renovation is time-consuming, expensive and potentially restricts use by road users due to road closures.

“Our design requirements in terms of materials and construction methods are high. Our ambition is to make maintenance more cost-effective and to reduce disruption to traffic. The independent study conducted by RISE is valuable for deciding on alternative maintenance measures for bridge railings," says Adriano Maglica, administrative director for major bridges at the Swedish Transport Administration.

RISE was commissioned to conduct an independent study by the Swedish Transport Administration in order to compare existing railing materials with more low-maintenance alternatives. Two road bridges adjacent to the Öland Bridge were selected for testing a new method for preventing rusting on railing posts.

A polymer material has been installed around railing posts. This elastic material is attached to the railing pole using special tools. The interior surface of these ‘elastic socks’ is similar to a fleece and is impregnated with grease to prevent rusting. The grease contains an anticorrosive additive.

"The study demonstrated that railing posts remained rust-free. We envisage a number of uses for this technique in areas where corrosion presents a safety hazard, for example on pipelines or structures in animal stalls,” says RISE researcher Bror Sederholm.