Composites help make rails-to-trails project a reality

Composite Advantage's FiberSPAN fiber-reinforced polymer bridge deck helps repurpose a 107m abandoned trestle bridge in Pennsylvania.

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Broad Top Township (PA, US) reported on Jan. 25 that it has applied Composite Advantage’s (Dayton, OH, US) FiberSPAN fiber-reinforced polymer bridge deck product to repurpose an abandoned trestle bridge. The bridge is a key component of a 6.4-km span of public trail connecting Hopewell and Tatesville, counties that intersect with two public parks. The project is part of the Rails-To-Trail Conservancy effort to revive unused rail corridors nationwide to support a growing network of recreational trails.

Design requirements dictated support on just two girders spaced at 3m, along with a 127-mm bridge deck depth needed to meet deflection criteria. CA technicians molded an additional 51-mm step to the bottom of the deck at each girder location.

“Unlike conventional bridge decks, old structures like the H&BT trestle bridge use girder flanges with rivet heads on top,” says Scott Reeve, president of CA. “To properly seat the FRP deck, we molded a spacer into the structure to ensure the deck would clear the rivet heads. The design flexibility of FiberSPAN allows us to effectively tackle these types of engineering challenges.”

A Broad Top Township construction crew bolted down the FRP deck panels to threaded shear studs welded to the tops of the girders. CA provided a flat seating surface for a seamless, integrated fit inside the rivets along the structure’s girders. Fifteen FRP deck panels took just three days to install.  CA integrally molded steel box tubing inside its FRP sandwich panels to provide a high-strength load path and support railing posts.

The H&BT trestle bridge and trail segment opened to the public in November 2014. The 107m long, 4m wide structure spans a gorge providing safe access to the region’s natural attractions.

Composite Advantage is a manufacturer of very large FRP composite parts, up to 30m, for structurally demanding applications and corrosive environments.

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