The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA, Arlington, VA, US) commends Congress for including a provision in the recently passed $305 billion highway bill that will direct the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to contract with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to assess the overall performance of more than 300 bridges built under the Innovative Bridge Research and Construction (IBRC) program. Half of those bridges were made with composites.
"The American Manufacturers Composites Association's (ACMA) members applaud Congress for reviewing the performance of bridges constructed under the IBRC," said ACMA President Tom Dobbins. "Policy makers and the owners of these important assets should know how they are performing. We believe that this study will show that composite materials enable the country to build bridges that last significantly longer than bridges built with more traditional materials."
From 1999 through 2004, FHWA had provided IBRC funding to study those bridge projects. However, the FHWA had stopped tracking the performance of IBRC-funded bridges. This made it difficult to assess the effectiveness of innovative materials such as composites in those bridges. ACMA worked closely with Congress to include this study.
The study will assess the performance of the bridges built under the IBRC and compare them to bridges built with traditional materials and technologies. The study will also provide recommendations to Congress on how the installed lifecycle costs of bridges could be reduced through the use of these innovative materials and technologies.
Dobbins says ACMA's Government Affairs and Composites Growth Initiatives teams have met with the Department of Transportation to express the industry's willingness to collaborate with DOT to make the study as comprehensive and meaningful as possible.
"Our work is only just beginning now," Dobbins said. "There is still a lot more to do to ensure that the study is properly rolled out and that opportunities are provided for members of the composites industry to participate in a rapidly growing infrastructure market."