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Composite Bridge Decking
Highways for LIFE Technology Partnerships 2010 Award $460,305
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Need for Innovation
Moveable bridges typically have lightweight decks because it reduces the consumption of energy and complexity of mechanical devices required to operate them. Decks used in the past (e.g. steel grating) have a relatively short service life and frequently contribute to the degradation of the structure as a whole because it does not protect structural steel from the elements. Bridge owners have expressed a need for a light-weight, solid-surface deck and these needs can be met with composite materials. They are corrosion-resistant and perform well in fatigue so can be used to provide a long service life with little maintenance. They also provide additional benefits of better skid resistance and reduced noise.
Composite materials are ideal for bridge decks because of their high strength to weight ratio and resistance to corrosion but the initial cost and some problems with the wearing surface have deterred widespread use. This project will refine the materials and fabrication methods used to produce a fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite bridge deck that was developed by the University at Buffalo for New York State Department of Transportation (DOT).
After an iterative process of analyzing, testing and evaluating various materials, components and methods, a versatile pultruded tube has been selected as the basic building block for prefabricated deck panels to be used on moveable bridges (see figure 4). Panel testing is being done to validate a finite element model and proof testing will be carried out on important details such as connections and the wearing surface.
BridgeComposites, LLC (Hornell, NY)
Highways for Life
Jerome O'Connor, PE
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