The 295-foot HUGO prototype consists of a 29-foot middle span made from CFRP so it’s only 1.2 feet thick. The approach ramps on each side are built with two 59-foot GFRP sections plus a 15-foot metal ramp. “Keeping this element slender has the advantage of limiting the length of the approach ramps, saving cost and reducing weight,” says Martin Veltkamp, FiberCore’s design manager. It also provides a 6.5-foot clearance underneath the span for workers making repairs on the permanent bridge.
FiberCore manufactures the HUGO decks at its plant in Rotterdam using a one-shot injection molding system, with vinyl ester resin for CFRP bridge segments and polyester resin for GFRP segments. The entire injection process takes about 90 minutes, and workers can demold and finish the bridge segment the next day.
With this speedy production method, FiberCore can produce an average of five light-traffic bridges a week. “It’s really more of an industrial process than a building process,” says Simon de Jong, InfraCore’s founder and CEO.
Because of this factory prefabrication, HUGO decks can arrive at the project site with the grit road surface, railings and even the painted traffic lines installed. “We have pushed the line of what we can do in the factory and what we do on site, gradually taking on more and more so that the time on site is very short,” says de Jong.
The HUGO installation is simplified for contractors because the components are packaged as an entire system, including lightweight steel towers to support the bridge segments. A 65-foot bridge section weighs just 9 pounds, so builders only need light equipment to lift and move the elements and steel towers into place.
Once the work on the bridge is complete, the temporary bridge is removed and sent to the next bridge repair site for installation. This makes HUGO both a sustainable and an economical choice for transportation authorities that have long lists of bridge maintenance projects.
“The bridge will be a tool that KWS will reuse on a wide variety of infrastructure projects throughout the Netherlands,” says Veltkamp. “We are the first country in the world to be doing this, and I expect this will have huge fallout internationally.”
Bridges aren’t InfraCore Company’s only interest; the company is currently marketing its composites technology to shipyards and aerospace and hopes to expand to other areas as well. Its composite structures should soon be available in the United States. Orenco Composites, headquartered in Oregon, signed an agreement in March to license the application of InfraCore technology.