GFRP Wraps Repair Bridge
East Fork Bridge rehabilitation project

The East Fork Bridge’s piles, pictured here after rehabilitation, had corroded by more than 50 percent.

Project: East Fork Bridge rehabilitation project
School: West Virginia University
Location: East Lynn, W.Va.
Project Director: Hota GangaRao

After months of dividing two-way traffic between one lane that only allowed speeds of 10 mph, the East Fork Bridge of East Lynn, W.Va., finally received the repairs it needed to fully reopen in March 2014.

In 2011, the American Society of Civil Engineers declared the bridge to be one of the 13.4 percent of West Virginia bridges deemed “structurally deficient,” as section loss for the bridge’s steel H-piles was up nearly 50 percent. Funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Transportation, USACE structural engineers and professors and graduate students from West Virginia University’s Constructed Facilities Center (CFC) investigated various materials to determine the best solution for the deterioration problem. The team found a fast, inexpensive solution in composites.

Hota GangaRao, director of the CFC, says the team wanted a material that was “light weight, easy to handle, cost-effective, durable and noncorrosive.” The team knew from the start that composites would be an ideal solution and chose GFRP composite shells instead of their other option, steel jacketing. GangaRao says the GFRP materials were inexpensive compared to conventional repair costs, extremely durable, easy to install and had an aesthetically pleasing finish.