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FL Bridge Drops Concrete for Composites

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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A bridge set to open later this year in Florida will be a testing ground for composite building materials that could change the way construction and maintenance of bridges is carried out.

Halls River Bridge plan
Images: FDOT

The Halls River Bridge replcement project will utilize glass fiber reinforced bars, hybrid composite beams and carbon fiber composite cable.

The Halls River Bridge, under construction in Homosassa, which is situated on the Gulf Coast, is a $6.1 million project funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA and Florida Department of Transportation first decided to use the new span, which replaces a 62-year-old bridge over the river, as a test project for the use of hybrid composite beams.

Composite Beams

HCBs designed by HC Bridge, which has worked with FDOT on the project, have been used in a number of bridges throughout the country. They consist of a fiber-reinforced polymer shell, a concrete arch to provide compression reinforcement, and steel bars to provide tension reinforcement.

hybrid composite beams

Hybrid Composite Beams have been used in a number of bridges throughout the country.

The FRP shell is designed to eliminate vulnerability to problems traditionally associated with exposed steel and concrete: corrosion, spalling, and the alkali-silica reaction. The bridge spans, made of HCBs, are being supplied by manufacturer Kenway Corp., according to Engineering News-Record.

Other Composites

Eventually, the plan for the Halls River Bridge grew to include other composite materials: Carbon fiber composite cable, supplied by the Tokyo Rope Mfg. Company Ltd., and glass fiber reinforced bars. In the end, every component that would traditionally be made of concrete in such a bridge was replaced with composites.

Of course, the innovative building materials come at a cost—according to an FDOT estimate from 2015, the composite bridge will run about $282 per square foot, as opposed to the $166-per-square-foot cost of a conventional concrete bridge. But the high upfront cost of the composites will be recouped in lower maintenance costs in the long run, if all goes according to plan, officials say.

Other advantages of the composites over traditional concrete include easier shipping and smaller cranes needed for placing the beams, according to FDOT.

Scheduled for Summer Completion

According to FDOT records, work on the Halls River Bridge replacement began Jan. 9, 2017, and is being carried out by Astaldi Construction. It is currently projected to be completed Aug. 2.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Building materials; concrete; North America; Program/Project Management; Steel

Comment from peter gibson, (1/31/2017, 1:04 PM)

GFRP coatings/linings are some of the most durable coatings for steel and concrete corrosion protection.As the article states, the initial cost is higher ,but the long term benefits are there. Also,coatings people are not familiar with GFRP.Need a much higher skill level to work with.

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