For the 18th straight year, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) represented the composites industry at the annual International Bridge Conference. This past week, ACMA’s Transportation Structures Council and FRP Rebar Manufacturers Council informed and educated engineers at the conference about FRP composites used in infrastructure applications, including bridge decks, rebar, girders, bridge pier protection, and concrete repair/strengthening systems.

During the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to learn about recent advancements in the delivery of FRP composites infrastructure by the Florida Department of Transportation and their strategy for adoption of uniform standards.

The workshop’s attendees also had the opportunity to learn about the use of composites in specific construction projects, including the recently re-opened Sarah Mildred Long Bridge spanning the US 1 Bypass over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine. It is first bridge of its kind in the U.S. to shoulder four precast 200 ft. tall concrete towers that support a 300 ft. long structural steel box girder lift span. As attendees learned, L-shaped FRP wind fairings provided by Composite Advantage help stabilize the lift span during severe weather conditions, eliminate detrimental dynamic responses, and ensure resiliency. Both sides for the lift span have 13-foot tall FRP fairings bolted to the exterior girders. The light weight of FRP minimizes dead load on the lift span and the mechanical lift system.

The workshop also covered the use of composites for rehabilitation, including two new FRP products from composite pipe specialist QuakeWrap, Inc. The first is a new type of pre-cured glass or carbon FRP laminate that is about 2-3 times stronger than steel. The second product is a new sandwich construction FRP pipe that received the 2016 ASCE Innovation Award as the world’s first green and sustainable pipe. The technology was used to repair an 80-ft long, 60-inch diameter culvert in a remote site more than a 1000 mile north of Brisbane, Australia in July 2015. The lightweight pipe can be installed with no need for jacking equipment on the remote site, resulting in significant cost savings.

Another example of successful rehabilitation technology was demonstrated by West Virginia University’s Hota GangaRao, Ph.D., P.E., and Ray Liang, Ph.D. In 2014, GangaRao and West Virginia University teamed up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate the 40-year-old East Fork Bridge, which links State Route 37 to a popular recreation site. According to GangaRao and Liang, the bridge represents five major benefits of composites: design flexibility, innovation, rapid deployment, cost-effectiveness, and outstanding structural performance.