Composite-decked pedestrian bridge deck links Cambridge and Charlestown, Mass.

The North Bank Bridge, a new 690-ft/210m structure across the Charles river from downtown Boston, was manufactured with Composites Advantage (Dayton Ohio) sandwich panels.

For Boston’s largest pedestrian bridge project to date, the Massachusets Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation Resources opted to approve Composite Advantage LLC’s (Dayton, Ohio) trademarked FiberSPAN fiber-reinforced polymer bridge deck for the North Bank Bridge. On December 6, 2012, CA’s composite bridge deck made its debut as an integral component of the new 690-ft/210m long structure, which links Cambridge and Charlestown, Mass., and provides pedestrians and bicyclists more immediate access to the Charles River parklands across the river from downtown Boston.

CA fabricated its FRP decking with five different panel sizes to accommodate the project’s requirement for a curvilinear shape. The bridge’s fluid form allows it to span water, cross a railroad, skirt launch pads for tour boats and bypass a historic building.

“This project was a little bit different,” says CA president Scott Reeve. “Unlike most deck-on-beam construction applications, our FRP bridge deck was engineered as an integral component of the overall structural arrangement along with tubular steel trusses. The composite and steel-truss combination positions the bridge deck to act as the shear connection. This approach made it possible for the designer to create an iconic landmark with visual impact while meeting structural requirements.”

The deck was manufactured with CA’s innovative sandwich construction, which employs fiberglass top and bottom skins and closely-spaced internal webs that function like a series of I-beams. CA molded the 10.3-ft by 12-ft (3.14m by 3.66m) panels with a 5-inch/127-mm depth and an epoxy/aggregate nonslip coating.  To enhance the bridge’s appearance in its natural setting, the FRP deck’s color was coordinated with the steel. For pedestrians who travel between the two communities, the new North Bank Bridge has reduced a 25-minute commute to less than five minutes.

CA is a leading manufacturer of very large fiber-reinforced polymer parts — up to 52-ft long — for structurally demanding applications and corrosive environments. CA bills its processing techniques as ground-breaking and primarily serves the infrastructure and construction industries, fabricating large, complex parts that incorporate the finishing and assembly details desgined to help customers reduce installation costs. CA's product range includes vehicle and pedestrian bridges, waterfront infrastructure, and rail station platforms.

For more information about Composite Advantage, visit


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