The Federal Highway Administration has awarded a $460,305 grant to a New York-based venture to develop and demonstrate corrosion-resistant, lightweight bridge decking for rapid installation on movable bridges.
A partnership headed by BridgeComposites LLC, of Hornell, NY, will use the funds to improve materials and manufacturing methods to reduce the cost of a composite decking system now in development and test the system on a bridge.
The project is the eighth to receive a grant from FHA’s Technology Partnership program, part of the Highways for LIFE initiative.
|The Federal Highway Administration calls fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites for bridges effective and efficient.|
The program provides grants to private industry to help push promising late-stage prototypes that can reduce construction congestion and enhance highway quality and safety closer to commercialization.
‘Effective and Efficient’
Highway agencies have expressed interest for a generation in composite, lightweight bridge decking for use on movable bridges, to save operating expenses and reduce lifecycle costs.
FHA and other transportation stakeholders have been researching fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites for bridge applications for 25 years.
“New breeds of this high-performance and innovative material developed in the last 70 years are making headway into the civil and bridge infrastructures,” FHA reports on its website. “Structural components for hybrid bridge construction such as FRP deck panels and slabs, reinforcing elements, cable and tendon systems, and laminates have been successfully demonstrated in highway bridges.
“Currently, there are more vehicular bridge projects using FRP composite materials in the United States than in any other country.”
FRP materials are increasingly being used to repair and strengthen structural concrete members, “and when properly designed and applied, [they] can be effective and efficient,” FHA says.
Development and Testing
The New York State Department of Transportation developed a bridge deck at the University at Buffalo made primarily of FRP materials. Lab tests showed that the deck could meet loading requirements of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, be installed quickly and easily, and endure the repeated loadings required for a long service life, project officials said in a release.
The BridgeComposites grant will allow researchers to evaluate alternative materials and production methods to develop a composite deck system that can be produced economically.
Using specified deck performance criteria, preliminary dimensions will be determined and materials options explored through testing to determine the most promising combination of geometry, materials and fabrication method. Detailed manufacturing specifications and shop drawings will be produced to encourage broad acceptance in the engineering community.
The deck system will be used on a bridge in Allegany County, NY, to determine and demonstrate the practicality of the installation procedures and connection details. The pilot project will use a small fixed-span bridge, but future use on movable-span bridges is anticipated.
Other project partners are Pennsylvania State University, LeTourneau University, Integrated Materials and Applied Computing Inc., and XC Associates.