That pre-standard is in place, and will go through the ASCE balloting committee in the fall to become a full standard, at which point it can be used by practicing engineers working with FRP materials. The standards will also go through a peer review, and Witcher anticipates the process being completed by 2013.
When that happens, the impact could be immediate. “Currently, engineering firms and construction documents require FRP structures to be designed by the manufacturer. Once that standard is out there, the engineer has a legal means to do his own design,” says Witcher. He also notes that published standards could also lead to immediate change in academia. “Schools could use those specific guidelines to train students early into working with composites.”
In the meantime, groups such as the TSC are focusing their efforts on Congress and the Transportation Bill. DOTs can start a ripple effect by committing to suppliers of products on projects that will be built if they’re infused with the proper funding, which will then result in contractors getting their crews involved. If all goes well, these changes will put composites on a level playing field with other materials in infrastructure.