New composite bridge decking available for long-span bridges

Decking can be custom-molded to meet standards and specifications.

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Composite Advantage LLC (CA, Dayton, Ohio) announced on March 6 a new fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite deck product for long-span bridge applications. The decking can be custom molded to meet both applicable standards and bridge owners’ and engineers’ specifications in unique situations that call for design flexibility. According to CA, the deck concept is especially suitable for long-span lift, bascule, steel-truss or steel-grate bridges that require reduced weight, or for rural bridges in locations where faster installations can minimize detour time and costs. CA’s composite deck product is inherently corrosion-resistant and, therefore, promises low maintenance and a long life cycle.

A spin-off from the National Composite Center (NCC, Kettering, Ohio), CA manufactures large composite structures for infrastructure and construction. CA builds its decks with a sandwich construction of fiberglass faceskins and a fiber-reinforced core of redundant shear webs in both longitudinal and transverse bridge directions. The molding process enables incorporation of a wide range of design options and eliminates the need for costly tooling that can constrain deck panel dimensions. CA is able to deliver FRP composite bridge panels up to 52 ft/15.8m long. Deck panels, typically placed transversely across the bridge, reportedly work with any underlying beam-spacing configuration.

The company says it can design its FRP panels to provide specified stiffness in both longitudinal and transverse bridge directions in thicknesses that match the elevation of surrounding components. Individual panels weigh 20 lb/sq-ft (97kg/sq-m) or less, which permits placement with light equipment, such as an excavator, rather than a large, expensive crane. Panel-to-support connection options differ based on the need, and asphalt or polymer-aggregate wear surfaces can be applied, including at the time of panel manufacture, for faster installation. Decks also can be molded in any color and can be provided with guardrail attachments and/or a crown. The company recently won the Infinite Possibility Award at the American Composites Manufacturers Assn.’s (ACMA) COMPOSITES+POLYCON 2009 event for a lightweight, drop-in-place, prefabricated fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite bridge product, which consists of prefabricated panels with integrally molded beams and deck that eliminates connection joints between deck and support beams, contributing to much faster installation.