Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) is being used to build new service ramps to bridge the gap between the rail trolleys and the station platforms on the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s (MATA) rail trolley cars. It is essential for the safety of the employees and the riders that the ramps be strong and sturdy and also light enough to be placed easily by the trolley operators. The MATA team reports that the new ramps built of composite materials are 60 percent lighter and three times stronger than the traditional metal ramps. Of key importance, the new ramps are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, allowing for secure loading of riders using wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistance devices.

Knowing QuakeWrap’s history of using fiber-reinforced polymers in structural engineering rehabilitation projects, WSP USA, engineering consultants to the MATA Trolley Division, called on QuakeWrap for the design and fabrication of the new ramps. Being able to rehabilitate the infrastructure instead of replacing the entire structure prevented long service interruptions and provided significant cost savings.

Supervising engineer on the project, Fran Sosa of WSP USA, said, “The use of carbon fiber instead of glass fiber will provide the rail trolley ramps even more strength and durability over other standard materials while remaining a lighter weight solution as compared to traditional metal service ramps.”

“This is another application of FRP that benefits the public,” said Mo Ehsani, president and CEO of QuakeWrap Inc., and centennial professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Arizona. “The weight of these ramps was a primary concern to MATA.  Our unique design led to each ramp weighing only 25 pounds, while exceeding the strength and deflection requirements set by the client.”