STAINLESS STEEL rebar suppliers have this week slammed the Highways Agency for failing to give clear guidance on the use of stainless steel in highway structures.
They are upset that a draft advice note fails to make the use of stainless steel mandatory in areas prone to de-icing salt attack.
The Highways Agency is to issue an advice note after an update of BS6744: 1986, covering the use of austenitic stainless steel rebars in concrete, is published in the spring.
'Unless clients insist, contractors will have no incentive to use stainless steel, ' said Stainless Steel (UK) technical director David Gray.
'We believe the Agency is too worried about initial cost and, as a result, the industry will not be able to take advantage of stainless steel's corrosion resistance and its potential to help develop lighter, more efficient concrete structures.'
His views were echoed by Hillford Steel Group sales and marketing manager Edward James.
'The Agency is sitting on the fence, ' he said. 'It could have been much more bullish in its support for stainless in areas at risk from chloride penetration.'
Suppliers claim that selective use of stainless steel in areas vulnerable to de-icing salt attack would also reduce whole life costs.
But Agency technical adviser David Milne said its research showed the issue was far from clear cut. 'With improved designs such as integral bridges the benefits of stainless steel take many years to show up.
Extra initial cost can be as high as 50%, depending on the actual design and the number of splash zones.
'Nevertheless, we believe the new advice note will encourage greater use of stainless steel, especially as using it doesn't involve any new design or construction skills.'